Photo of a Hellenic Coast Guard vessel

More than five hundred people were lost due to a horrific boat sinking on June 14, The boat, which was bringing South Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African refugees, sank in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Greece.

This fishing boat had been smuggling immigrants from several different countries; it departed from Libya on June 10 and the plan was to make it to Europe. Hundreds of people are still missing and only 104 have made it out alive. This boat was carrying 701 Pakistani, Syrian, Egyptian, and Palestinian refugees and migrants

According to anonymous survivors that CNN has interviewed, the Hellenic (Greek) Coast Guard had tried to tow the boat as it was tipping to bring it to safety. However, around the third attempt, they failed and it caused the boat to tip further and for people to fall out of the boat.

Many of the survivors are claiming it was the “assistance” from the Coast Guard that ended up causing the disaster. They assert that it was more harmful than good.

Within the 4 days of the boat’s journey, the conditions had gotten extreme. Passengers had run out of water and had started drinking out of storage bottles people had urinated in. It has been reported that there were already six deaths onboard due to dehydration and malnourishment even before the boat capsized.

Passengers apparently had not wanted to have the Hellenic Coast Guard come to assist them, and they had been pleading for Italy to help since that was their intended destination. 

We have been spending a lot of time talking about the Titan sinking, where five billionaires went in an experimental, poorly-built submarine to look at the Titanic wreckage. They had to sign waivers warning that there was a substantial risk of death considering the depths and conditions. But we really should be focusing more money and resources on finding and giving support to the hundreds of refugees who lost their lives last week. 

While the Titan sinking is sad as well, I think a major issue in our society is that we spend a lot more time and money trying to save and report on the rich but when it comes to hundreds of poor, underprivileged refugees, we turn away from it. Why? Because it’s too heartbreaking to even think about? Well imagine being there. Or coming out of it. Or not being able to come out of it.

We need to focus more attention when significant numbers of people pass away due to extreme and devastating events like this. While I have sympathy for the people who lost their lives in the Titan, I also think that when you pay millions of dollars to go in an experimental submersible being controlled by a video game controller, and going to some of the deepest depths of the ocean, you’re probably not going to make it out alive, and the people who boarded that submarine signed documents acknowledging the potential risks. The refugees boarding the boat in Libya didn’t sign any agreements and had no idea of the possible outcome.

So I have to ask, why does our society value profit over people? Why do we allow capitalism to override our humanity? We’re humans–we have emotions for a reason. Emotions are a part of our survival instincts–money and currency are not. 

My point is that we should have equal amounts of empathy and press coverage on both events. Both were very sad and horrific, and we should treat them equally as such. But how come there aren’t as many news stories on the refugee boat sinking? How come no one’s really talking about it? 

Over $6,500,000 has been spent on searching for the Titan. When looking online, I can’t even find any articles that say the actual cost or hours spent on searching for the hundreds of missing refugees lost on this boat. That has to make you think how much is actually even being spent, if any at all, if you can’t find any answers on it.

We all need to show a bit more empathy and humanity when faced with disaster. How can we hear about a little under a thousand people unexpectedly and horrifically dying but then not care as much as we do the death of five people who basically went on a suicide mission? We should care equally about these lives. Equality is important here. However, the coverage of these events demonstrates hypocrisy.

  • MJ (she/her). Likes writing, reading, learning languages, and studying human behavior. Personality type: INTJ