The Lampedusa tragedy with 194 African migrants confirmed dead and at least 150 more missing feared dead, many trapped in the wreckage of the stricken boat 47 meters below the surface is overwhelming. Like thousands of other Africans an Middle Easterners they paid a lot of money to smugglers and attempted the dangerous trip to Europe looking for a better life, but in this case they found instead death in the Mediterranean. They were flying from wars, extreme poverty and misery. Others attempt similar dangerous trips from Indonesia to Australia with the same risks, again with smugglers making big profits of their tragedy, only to find a closed door.
I have tried to write about this tragedy for days but I really don’t know what to say. Only to emphasise once again how small is the rich world and how wide the world devastated by wars, corruption, poverty, lack of resources, natural disasters, droughts and famines. Solidarity, human rights and social justice are in question here. Pope Francis said:
“speaking of peace, speaking of the inhuman worldwide economic crisis, which is a serious symptom of the lack of respect for mankind, I cannot neglect to mention with great suffering the many victims of yet another tragic shipwreck today in the sea of Lampedusa. The word shame springs to mind. Shame! Let us pray together for those who have lost their lives – men, women, children, for their families and for all refugees. Let us unite our strength in order that there be no more tragedies of this type! Only decisive collaboration by all of us can help to prevent this”.
The day before the Lampedusa tragedy occurred, The UN said that Some 842 million people – roughly one in eight – suffered from chronic hunger in the period from 2011 to 2013, the vast majority of them in developing regions. The number is down from 868 million reported for the 2010-12 period, according to the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2013), published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), all of which based in Rome.
The agencies said in a news release that continued economic growth in developing countries has improved incomes and access to food. Recent pick-up in agricultural productivity growth, supported by increased public investment and renewed interest of private investors in agriculture, has improved food availability.
In some countries, precisely remittances from migrants are playing a role in reducing poverty, leading to better diets and progress in food security. They can also contribute to boosting productive investments by smallholder farmers, the agencies noted.
“Despite the progress made worldwide, marked differences in hunger reduction persist,” they stated.
For example, sub-Saharan Africa has made only modest progress in recent years and remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with one in four people estimated to be hungry.
Meanwhile, no recent progress is observed in Western Asia, while Southern Asia and Northern Africa witnessed slow progress. More substantial reductions in both the number of hungry and prevalence of undernourishment have occurred in most countries of East Asia, South-eastern Asia, and in Latin America.
Some facts to think about.