18 June 2023: The Observer view on the Greek migrant boat tragedy: the west must admit responsibility
Horrors at sea will continue until the west faces up to its responsibilities and recognises its part in the plight of refugees
The nationalities of the several hundred people assumed to have drowned in the latest, terrible migrant boat tragedy in the Mediterranean help explain why they attempted so perilous a journey. Pakistanis, Egyptians, Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians reportedly comprised most of the approximately 750 passengers crammed on to the unseaworthy vessel that set off from Tobruk in Libya and sank 50 miles off the coast of Greece last Wednesday.
The list of countries of origin is an index of pain, for which the EU, Britain and their allies bear much responsibility. The west’s failure to stop the Syrian regime’s war on its people led to the 2015-16 migrant crisis, when hundreds of thousands of Syrians sought safety in Europe. Although fighting has subsided, many, including Palestinians living in desperate conditions in camps in the war-torn country, still flee persecution by a vengeful regime, or are quitting an increasingly unaccommodating Turkey.