Reflection: On dying in a container lorry

  • Fr Rob Esdaile

Perhaps the next time we get caught in traffic behind a container lorry we should each take the chance to ask ourselves: how desperate would I have to be to let myself be locked in such an airless, unlit, unheated metal box; incarcerated by criminals who care nothing for my welfare, then hoisted aboard a cargo-ship; losing the last shred of hard-fought-for liberty and control of my life and losing also the last vestige of my dignity in a space where I may spend hours or days with no means of seeking help; soiling myself, starving alongside others of whom I previously knew nothing, in conditions which resemble most-closely the cattle-trucks that went to Auschwitz (but with the added twin risks of suffocation and refrigeration)?

Do I still want to talk in terms of the 'push factors' and 'pull factors' that govern mass-migration, or would it not be more honest just to view this tragic choice as a scream of angst worthy of Edvard Munch in response to the wars we wage and the weapons we so willingly sell to the world's conflict zones?

As I mourn the 39 nameless bodies found in Essex will I name them as my brothers and sisters? Then, will I take the further step of recognising the need for some official routes through which such - call them what you will: torture-survivors, refugees, economic migrants, asylum seekers - desperate people can reach safe sanctuary?

And, lastly, will I then act, beginning by changing the discourse about migration? These bodies were never a swarm, nor an infestation, but 39 constellations of dreams and hopes and plans. May they rest in peace. May we do the opposite.

Fr Ron Esdaile is Parish Priest at Our Lady of Lourdes church, Thames Ditton


Tags: Migrants, Refugees, Lorry, Container Lorry, Fr Rob Esdaile

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