The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: Life comes first

Thursday, 15 September 2022, 09:35 Last update: about 10 days ago

The death of a young migrant has once again brought to the fore the issue of migration.

Many migrants lose their lives in the Mediterranean, but, as normally happens, the death of someone with a full life ahead always brings more sympathy and concern.

That, then, the four-year-old died of thirst made the incident so much more difficult to absorb.


The young girl, Louijin, died because action to save migrants in distress took too long. In this and many other circumstances, authorities and governments waste time arguing on responsibility. “Life” is given the side, and politics is given more importance than the human value.

Questions will now be asked and perhaps an investigation will be held as to why this happened, but the four-year-old victim will soon be forgotten except, of course, by those who loved her. There were many others who died before her, and we no longer remember them.

The Church's Justice and Peace Commission issued a strongly-worded statement in a bid to raise more awareness. Politicians should prioritise the saving of lives, it said, and should refrain from fanning the flames of indifference.

Indifference: that is the key word.

These tragedies have unfortunately happened so often that we tend to just not care. We tend to think of numbers, when behind those numbers there are people, families, lives which are lost.

And then, if someone dares to speak up on their behalf, they are quickly labelled as enemies of the State, or traitors. Far from being so, the Curia commission said, “people who raise their voices in favour of saving lives at sea are honouring our vocation to be – in the words of Pope Francis – a ‘safe haven’ for migrants”.

The pontiff said those words only last April, but we have quickly forgotten them. The politicians who shook the pope’s hand and pompously paraded themselves to be seen next to him are the same politicians who quickly disregarded what the pope emphasised.

We did not move from “indifference to solidarity”, as the Pope said a few months ago. And, while politicians must take on the blame for this, many of us are “helping” them by also not taking a firmer stand on the issue.

Too often, in the comfort of our own homes, we tend to put aside what other people are going through. (And it’s not only migrants that come to mind. It could be a neighbour we come across every day, who might need our help; and yet, we look the other way).

The Curia’s Commission, in its statement, hoped that the death of Louijin will “shock people into action”. We hope it will do, but the cynics in us know that this will not be the case.

When lives are at stake, everything else is secondary, the commission said.

The commission is correct to say so.

But the “torpor of indifference” is hard to shake off.

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