It’s quite a while now since I read Sonia Nazario’s outstanding book “Enrique’s Journey”. It narrates the journey of a young lad from Honduras seeking to join his mother in the promised land of the USA. It’s heart rendering, the risks and dangers faced and eye opening in the guilt felt by the absent mothers sending remittances home, often earned from looking after wealthy Americans children.
If you’d asked me could another book on migration have even more impact, I’d have doubted it. Besides in recent years the memories of bodies floating in the Mediterranean have faded and the story has been about policies such as flights to Rwanda; or heart-warming tales of care for Ukrainians fleeing their war-ravaged land.
But I’m reading Sally Hayden’s “My Fourth Time, We Drowned” and it’s the bleakest book I’ve ever read. The risks even greater than in Central America and on the US border, and the treatment being endured more barbaric than that on a different continent or even under Trump.
This narrates the story of Africans seeking to cross the Med into Europe, the world’s most dangerous migration route. They’re fleeing war or conscription in the Horn of Africa or grinding poverty and crime in West Africa. It’s not a train through Mexico and crossing the Wall or Rio Grande, it’s across the Sahara and then attempts to cross the Sea on inflatable boats. More drown or are turned back to Libya than ever make it. The book is raw, the drowned woman floating lifelessly, and who’d just given birth with her child still attached by the umbilical cord. No one takes that risk for themselves or their child except through desperation.
Of course, we hear little of their plight now. The book narrates how the UN has been corrupted, the EU conniving and many aid agencies failing. Thank goodness for MSF one of the few organisations to come out with credit.
Libya or its militias are paid to do Europe’s dirty work. Desperate people are incarcerated in that land across the water from Europe’s shores. These poor people are left in the hands of those who mistreat them and even enslave them.
Read and weep for humanity. This cannot be allowed to continue. It’s even worse than flights to Rwanda.