The start of the 21st century has been characterised by enormous numbers of people on the move. Most are moving because they feel they have to, whether they are hoping toescape from an oppressive regime, poor living conditions, or merely trying to find somewhere where there is a better standard of living with better prospects for them and their families. It is a factor ofbetter communications, because people are made aware that there is somewhere better in another country, if only they can get there. It certainly is contributed to by the ever greater divisionsbetween the richest and the poorest countries, and the war, famine and disease that have become endemic in so many countries.
Legal migration is increasingly tightly controlled, so there is a growingsense of desperation felt by people who cannot qualify for that better life, or who find their own conditions becoming immeasurably worse. They might see a ship from a far country in one of their ports,and attempt to hide away in it; surely this will take them to the promised land? The crew of the ship will try hard to prevent their vessel being used, even though they might have sympathy with thepoor folk trying to escape.
If the stowaway succeeds in eluding their careful searches, then they might be stuck with the stowaway for weeks, before they can find another country where he or she canbe landed. Moreover, they know that the stowaway might be harmed if one hid in a compartment that would heat up in the tropics, or freeze in cold weather, or became involved with moving machinery. Sothe search is conducted with the stowaway’s own safety in mind. Stowaways have died after they have hidden in freight containers where there is no ventilation, or crept into spaces between the cargoin ships’ holds.
Increasingly desperate people trying to flee their own awful circumstances also fall into the hands of people smugglers, who will take all their money and may send them to sea in...