On September 22, 2022, a boat carrying as many as 150 people capsized off the coast of Tartous, Syria. Among its passengers were Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese of all ages fleeing economic collapse and denial of rights in Lebanon in hopes of a more stable, safer life in Europe. So far, at least 97 of the people on board, including 24 children, have lost their lives at sea, making it one of the deadliest boat disasters in the Eastern Mediterranean.
We at Asylum Access are shattered, heartbroken, and, frankly, furious. Some of our team and partners personally know the names and faces of those who have lost their lives or who otherwise remain missing. Many of us have felt that same fear, urgency, and desperation that forces you to take a dangerous risk to find somewhere where you can live free from oppression, conflict, or societal breakdown. All of us mourn this yet another preventable human tragedy.
Experiencing forced displacement means not only carrying your pain from your journey to safety but also continuing to be connected to the pain of others: the family that stayed behind, friends who tried to flee but didn’t make it, and the ongoing oppression of your community. This is what we live with and hold onto every day as we continue our work with Asylum Access towards change. As much as refugees are admired for our resilience, society and our sector need to make space for our trauma, vulnerability, comfort, and healing, especially in the aftermath of events such as these.
This tragedy should never have happened, and yet we find ourselves saying this far too often. It is infuriating and shameful to see wealthy European democracies who uphold themselves as champions of human rights continue to use the deadly waves of the Mediterranean as a deterrent to those seeking asylum and safety. At Asylum Access, we will continue providing holistic support to forcibly displaced communities in host countries, strengthening refugee-led movements for change, and building a global society where no one is forced to risk their lives to reach asylum.