Having seen the united, multinational efforts undertaken to help rescue a group of young Thai soccer players and their coach trapped deep underground, thousands of migrants currently contemplating crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy or decrepit boats are considering making their way into flooded Thai caves in hopes of garnering similar levels of compassion as those poured onto the remote hills of Southeast Asia over the past two weeks.
“I’m told that diving experts from the United States and Britain flew to Thailand to risk their lives to swim through a treacherous cave to rescue these boys,” says Faven Ali, a young mother of three from Somalia. She is currently on the Libyan coast awaiting either a chance to drown in the Mediterranean as yachts cruise by in the distance; be rescued, only to have various nations argue over who will allow her rescuers to enter their ports; or not be rescued, and not drown, and instead return to Libya to await another chance to do one of those things while trying to avoid being raped, fleeced for money by human traffickers, or spiralling into despondency and depression.
Faven points out that for herself, and others like her, there is a surprising lack of any organized rescue mission, despite her standing at sea level and with no need for advanced breathing apparatus, specialized training, and nerves of steel to reach her.
“No. In our case the U.S. brings in a Muslim ban, and the U.K. throws their future away largely out of fear we’ll reach their shores. So, many of us have come to the conclusion that we are simply too easy to assist. What we need is a cave.”
With teams in Thailand having pumped thousands of metric tonnes of water out of the underground caverns to allow the safest possible path out for the trapped boys, the dark joke has gone around the migrant camps that when they’re done maybe the same machines could be used to pump out the Med, allowing the desperate souls trapped on the Northern Coast of Africa a chance to wade to safety themselves.
“Or, if that seems impossible, maybe just recognize our humanity, and stop relying on danger and the risk of loss of life to dissuade people from seeking the same security that most others on earth enjoy simply by birthright,” adds Faven, looking seaward as she reckons with the arbitrary-at-best, nefarious-at-worst nature of the world’s current capacity for compassion; and peculiarities of its focus.
While the migrants admit the road to Thailand will be a long and treacherous one, and that finding a cave dangerous enough to necessitate a dramatic rescue but not so dangerous as to kill them will be present its own challenges, they say that if that’s what it takes to be saved then so be it.
“We hear Elon Musk was willing to send a mini-sub to help the Thai kids,” says a teenage boy waiting in the same camp as Faven. “And while I might have missed it, I have yet to see a submarine show up here. Or a ferry. Or even just a decently equipped canoe with some smiling people in it. It seems pretty clear that our best chance of rescue lies in subterranean Thailand.”