Top story: 61 British tourists (mainly children) feared dead after horrific cruise-liner sinking

Imagine this: On two consecutive days, first 61 people went missing at sea, presumed dead off the Turkish coast and then the following day around 40 people went missing off the coast of Italy, and those people happened to be predominantly white and British.

There would be a public outcry.

It would be the leading story on the rolling news, the hourly bulletins and the front pages of broadsheets and tabloids. There would be investigations, recriminations, tributes and biographies. There would be timelines and graphic maps and interviews with relatives, former school teachers or the neighbour. The embassy would make a comment. Journalists would set up camp on the shoreline- there would be documentaries and memoires and new protocols and procedures.

But over the last couple of days there were a couple of stories that didn’t catch my eye. In fact they didn’t make the headlines at all. The main reason is not that they were unremarkable, or dull or lacking in narrative value, timeliness, or tragedy. Indeed they are some of the saddest stories I have encountered of human desperation, of risking everything and of heartbreaking disaster.

They were not about white, British holiday makers. They were stories about immigrants, faceless expendable immigrants. Taking to the sea in un-seaworthy boats, to try and find safety in Europe. The first of the tragedies, yesterday, involved a small fishing boat which hit the rocks off the western Turkish coast. According to Al Jazeera, “at least 61 people died, including 12 men, 18 women, 28 children and three babies.” The passengers were apparently mostly from Iraq or conflict-wracked Syria and were trying to make it to the UK. See this heartbreaking image of the body of a young girl being carried out of the water.

The second tragedy took place early this morning near Lampedusa, a tiny island off the Italian cost, and a key gateway to Europe, north of Tunisia. It is not the first time that Lampedusa has played host to tragedy. Last year some 1,500 people lost their lives attempting to reach Europe, many via Lampedusa amid a mass movement of asylum-seekers and other migrants from north Africa and beyond.

European Union governments need to do more to rescue and assist the destitute people who arrive on its shores. Italian and NATO authorities have rescued more than 50 migrants from the sea after the sinking this morning, but dozens remain missing.

You may well have heard it here first. Take action to increase protections for vulnerable and desperate migrants, here.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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