I find stories about migrant workers intrinsically sad. I am not referring to the grim and harrowing tales one so often encounters in the media. No I refer to the socio-economic processes which uproot and which give no choice but to leave behind everything one calls home and everything familiar and loved, and entrust one’s life to some labour tout and set sail for god knows what.

Of course, the grim tales have become a motif of our times . It was at a talk by Prof Paul Rogers when I first heard about a very prescient film which showed a great march of africans to north africa only to be met on the other side of the Med. by a huge european security force on Spanish soil. Anyone know it? The film must have been made in the 1980s. And so it is interesting to find this story in India enews about the migration of Asians to Spain via Africa, and the dangers they encounter.

When Morocco deported migrants to the desert following massive attempts by Africans to enter the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta last year, the deportees included dozens of Asians, some of whom Spanish reporters found exhausted and weeping in the Sahara. ‘I sold my land to move to Europe,’ explained Mohammed Arif Hoshain, 23, from Bangladesh. ‘I paid and was flown through Qatar to Casablanca but I was cheated. I went to Moroccan police to ask to be taken back to my country, but they beat me and took me to the desert.’

You will notice if you read the full story that Morocco points the finger at the Gulf states. Trafficking along with bonded labour and other forms of coercion are rife. And that is where Sigma Huda , Bangladesh’s foremost activist on these issues, is headed to “investigate various forms of trafficking including prostitution, forced labour, sexual slavery and bonded labour.”