Almost 40 people drowned, and 75 were rescued, when a boat taking migrants to Greece capsized after hitting rocks. Among the dead were at least 10 children and the photographs of their lifeless bodies on the rocky beach once again served as a reminder about the ever-rising death toll of the tragedy that has been engulfing Europe. The photos recalled that of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose death that was captured on film brought global attention to the crisis.
Global attention, however, seems to be elsewhere now. “The heartbreaking images Saturday met a muted response,” notes the Associated Press, “perhaps a sign that many have grown weary of the unending reports about the suffering of migrants even though the number of people dying at sea is rising.”
Although the world does not seem to be as focused on the issue, the number of deaths keeps on increasing. The International Organization for Migration said that until Friday, 218 people had drowned this month in the Aegean Sea as they tried to reach Greek islands. A Human Rights Watch official said that January has been the “deadliest month so far” for the perilous journey between Greece and Turkey.
While deaths increase, though, sympathy for the migrants seems to be decreasing. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, once seen as a hero in the crisis for opening her country’s borders to refugees, is under rising pressure to stop the constant flow of people. On Saturday, she told party colleagues that refugees needed to know they would have to eventually go home. “We need … to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that once there is peace in Syria again, once IS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country,” she said.