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Nautical disaster, non-plutocrat iteration

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The horrible story with hundreds dead, still developing in the Mediterranean:

The story of how as many as 750 migrants came to board a rickety blue fishing trawler and end up in one of the Mediterranean’s deadliest shipwrecks is bigger than any one of the victims. But for everyone, it started somewhere, and for Thaer Khalid al-Rahalit started with cancer.

The leukemia diagnosis for his youngest son, 4-year-old Khalidcame early last year. The family had been living in a Jordanian refugee camp for a decade, waiting for official resettlement after fleeing Syria’s bitter war, and doctors said the United Nations’ refugee agency could help cover treatment costs. But agency funds dwindled and the child’s case worsened. When doctors said Khalid needed a bone-marrow transplant, the father confided in relatives that waiting to relocate through official channels was no longer an option. He needed to get to Europe to earn money and save his son.

“Thaer thought he didn’t have a choice,” said his cousin, Abdulrahman Yousif al-Rahal, reached by phone in the Jordanian refugee camp of Zaatari.

In Egypt, the journey for Mohamed Abdelnasser, 27, started with a creeping realization that his carpentry work could not earn enough to support his wife and two sons.

For Matloob Hussain, 42, it began the day his Greek residency renewal was rejected, sending him back to Pakistan, where his salary helped put food on the table for 20 extended family members amid a crippling economic crisis.

“Europe doesn’t understand,” said his brother Adiil Hussain, interviewed in Greece where they had lived together. “We don’t leave because we want to. There is simply nothing for us in Pakistan.”

The demonization of these desperate people willing to risk their lives because every other option is worse is hardly a unique feature of American politics, either.

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