Some 31 illegal Pakistani migrants were caught hidden in a lorry in Southern France, prosecutors said on Saturday.
The Pakistani lorry driver who was illegally transporting them was also detained. The discovery came after 39 people were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Britain last month, once again laying bare the risks faced by migrants en route to Europe.
The group of 31 Pakistani migrants was discovered during a routine check on a motorway near the Italian border on Friday, French prosecutors said. The migrants, who included three teenagers, were handed over to the Italian authorities in accordance with immigration procedures.
“We will try and establish if we can trace it back to a network and backers as we always do in this type of case,” the prosecutors’ office in the southeastern city of Nice said.
Phenomenon of illegal Pakistani entering Europe is not new. Thousands of Pakistanis fleeing poverty, unemployment and law and order problems have been attempting to illegally enter Europe. Every year, thousands of Pakistanis make abortive attempts to enter Greece via Iran and Turkey for better working opportunities. Most of them are arrested in Iran and Turkey and sent back.
Last year, the Pakistani ambassador to Greece wrote a letter to the Pakistn Foreign Office detailing the dire state of Pakistani human trafficking victims in Greece and seeking urgent attention of the government to curtail the crisis-like situation.
The ambssador had disclosed that he had dispatched bodies of 20 Pakistanis who died while trying to enter other European countries through Greece last month alone. Additionally, the bodies of three missing Pakistanis are being located.
He said the “unchecked” smuggling of people, especially from the Punjab districts of Gujrat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin and Sialkot is “hurting Pakistan all around”.