They are trapped in squalid detention centers on Libya’s front lines. They wash up on the banks of the Rio Grande. They sink without a trace — in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific or in waterways they can’t even name. A handful fall out of airplanes’ landing gear.
Migrants are often seen as a political headache in the countries they hope to reach and ignored in the countries they flee. Despite a wave of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis pouring into Europe, daily reminders of migrants’ plights are back on front pages.
The U.S.-Mexico border has become a flashpoint amid President Donald Trump’s ambitions to build a wall to keep out migrants. Many children caught crossing are stuck in squalid, unsanitary detention centers. Children have also been separated from parents in custody. Critics call such policies inhumane, heartless and “un-American.”
Around the world, a record 71 million people were forcibly displaced in 2018, according to a report last month by the U.N. refugee agency, in places as diverse as Turkey, Uganda, Bangladesh and Peru.
Despite the rhetoric about migration crises in Europe and the U.S., the top three countries taking in refugees are Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda. Germany comes in a distant fifth.
A 20-year-old who fled war in his homeland in sub-Saharan Africa two years ago survived the airstrikes, gunfire from militia members trying to keep migrants inside the compound, torture for ransom by traffickers and a sinking boat in the Mediterranean. He is now sleeping outside the Tajoura detention center in Libya along with hundreds of other migrants and awaiting a second chance to go to sea.
“I faced death in Libya many times before. I am ready to die again. I already lost my brothers in the war in my country,” he told The Associated Press. He didn’t want his name used because the militia fighters who shot at him are still guarding the compound.