Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A tale of two tragedies

5 July 20230 comments

Titan and Adriana are both figures from Greek mythology.

They are also the names of two vessels recently lost at sea, four days and 6,400 miles apart.

The five men who lost their lives on the Titan have been getting front page media coverage worldwide.

Meanwhile, the estimated 700 who died when the Adriana sank off the coast of Greece, mostly women and children, have essentially become footnotes in history.

The casualties aboard the Titan were wealthy. Two were billionaires and all had paid $380,000 for an adventure of a lifetime – a trip in a submersible to see the wreckage of the Titanic.

The victims of the Adriana fishing boat were refugee from war, persecution, poverty band climate change.

They paid – in many cases all of money they had – human traffickers to ferry them from Libya to Europe.

The differences between these two disastrous events are stark enough. But perhaps the most notable difference was how the world responded to them.

Several governments immediately spent millions mounting a search and rescue operation to find the Titan, submerged somewhere in the north Atlantic, deep below an area the size of the Wimmera.

Global media outlets streamed around the clock coverage. The US Coast Guard and Navy and the Canadian government sent planes and boats to the search area.

France and Canada each deployed deep sea robots.

Meanwhile, in Greece, officials knew the exact location of the overcrowded, disabled Adriana.

Reports claim the Greek Coast Guard could have saved the doomed vessel’s 400-750 passengers, but opted not to.

Most of the Adriana’s 100-or-so survivors were helped not by Greek authorities but by a private yacht that had responded to the distress call.

Among the survivors were 47 Syrians, 43 Egyptians, 12 Pakistanis, and two Palestinians. All were men, as they were traveling above deck on the Adriana. Hundreds of women and children were trapped below deck, and went down with the ship.


The victims of the Adriana were among almost 3,800 people who died on migration routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region last year, according to a new report from International Organisation for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP).

The 3,789 deaths recorded in 2022 was 11 per cent higher than the previous year. Almost 57,000 have died since 2014.

The new data shows drowning continues to be the main cause of death for people on the move worldwide, with more than 3,700 documented in total in 2022, including 2,257 during attempted crossings of the Mediterranean Sea, followed by 479 in North Africa, and 337 in the Caribbean.

“On sea routes across the world, there were many cases of “invisible shipwrecks”—cases of entire boats which are initially reported in distress or missing but no further information is ever verified—meaning that the number of drownings is likely far higher than what is recorded,” the MMP report says.

“The number of deaths due to violence perpetrated against migrants nearly doubled in 2022, with nearly 1000 deaths due to violence worldwide.

“This is the largest number of migrants deaths due to violence documented in any year since 2014, with less than 500 deaths recorded in all prior years.

“The vast majority of violent deaths of people on the move occurred in Western or Southern Asia. In total, 847 total violent killings of migrants could be verified in these regions in 2022, or 53 per cent of the total migrant deaths recorded in these regions,” the report says.

The report says the majority of people whose deaths were documented by the MMP database in 2022 and prior years are unidentified.

“More than 3,500 individuals were recorded with an unknown country of origin in 2022, including 1,395 people who were reported missing at sea and presumed dead,” the report says.

“Identifying human remains is challenging in all circumstances, but for missing migrants identification is even more complex due to the transnational nature of migration and the fact that many bodies are recovered weeks or months after the death occurs, if at all.

“Of the 3,329 people whose country of origin was identified in the MMP database in 2022, at least 1,372 (41 per cent) came from countries with ongoing conflicts or otherwise associated with forced migration movements, including hundreds from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, and Venezuela,” the report says.

Read more here: Search | Missing Migrants Project (