This week, President Donald Trump is in Asia, having embarked on the largest tour of the continent by a U.S. president since the George H.W. Bush era. The ongoing threat of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is set to be the main focus for his trip, with the potential remaining for millions of people’s lives to be put in grave danger should war break out.
Elsewhere on the globe, there is another threat to untold numbers of lives, and it’s one that, as in the case of North Korea, President Trump has shown himself unfit to address.
The bodies of dozens of teenage girls believed to be from Niger and Nigeria were discovered in the Mediterranean Sea Sunday.
The 26 bodies, all belonging to victims between 14 and 18 years old, were mostly found “close to a flimsy rubber dinghy that had all but sunk when rescuers arrived.” Three of the victims were found elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The bodies were taken to Salerno, Italy, where they were placed in coffins, awaiting further examination.
Italian coroners will be investigating the girls’ cause of death, seeking to find out whether they had been tortured or sexually abused — and whether or not they had been intentionally killed. Autopsies will be conducted on Tuesday, according to Salerno’s head of police Lorena Ciccotti, speaking to CNN.
NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports that Salerno’s police prefect, Salvatore Malfi, indicated that “the cause of death appears to be by drowning.”
The latest victims to be pulled from the Mediterranean Sea are believed, like so many others, to have set off from Libya for Italy. Libya, without any real or effective central government, is a haven for human smugglers; indeed, two men — one from Egypt and one from Libya — were arrested by Italian police on charges of human smuggling just this past Monday. Their arrests were reportedly not believed to be connected to the dozens of bodies recovered from the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday.
After the signing of an agreement between Italian leadership and what Libyan leadership there is earlier this fall, Italy dispatched personnel to train Libyans in fighting human trafficking, but that wasn’t enough to save these girls. The agreement is described by The Washington Post as “unusual” in that Italian authorities are “paying” Libyan militias.
Besides the recovery of the deceased migrants from the Mediterranean, nearly 400 migrants were rescued alive from the waters of the Mediterranean over the weekend.
Altogether since January 1 of this year, 150,982 migrants have reached European shores alive, and 2,839 migrants are estimated to have died on their way to Europe in the Mediterranean.
The scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean prompted by violence in Africa and the Middle East is staggering; the Central Mediterranean migration route has been said to be “the world’s deadliest and most dangerous… for women and children.”
President Trump has made his feelings on the matter clear. He rode into office on a platform founded upon the oppression of minorities, asserting that he would build a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico to keep out the Mexican “rapists and killers and drug dealers” supposedly flowing over the border and threatening U.S. national security.
As is well known, Trump has worked since taking office to impose a ban on refugees entering the United States, and earlier this fall, he won a temporary victory in that regard when the Supreme Court allowed part of his refugee ban to stay in place for the time being.
Unsurprisingly, when the ban was first introduced earlier this year, protests erupted across the nation.
With all of these issues in mind, President Trump could be acting as a force for change in this situation, but instead, he’s just lost in his own little racist Neverland.
Featured Image via Antonio Masiello/ Getty Images