As many as 500 migrants from north Africa and the Middle East are feared to be dead after traffickers intentionally drowned their boat. International Organisation for Migration described it “the worst shipwreck in recent years.”
“If this story, which police are investigating, is true, it would be the worst shipwreck in years… not an accident but a mass murder, perpetrated by criminals without scruples or any respect for human life,” IOM said in a statement.
According to the two survivors interviewed by the International Organisation of Migration, this disastrous event took place last Wednesday near Malta when the boat was rammed by the traffickers. After the migrants refused to move to a smaller vessel as they thought that the vessel was too small to hold them.
“Two survivors brought to Sicily told us that there had been at least 500 people on board. Nine other survivors were rescued by Greek and Maltese ships, but all the rest appear to have perished,” Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM’s spokesman in Italy, told TWS.
According to two survivors, the boat started from Damietta in Egypt, early September and contained migrants from Palestine, Egypt, Sudan and Syria.
According to the UNHCR, around 130,000 people have migrated in Europe by sea so far this year as compared to the 60,000 people last year. Italy alone has received 118,000 migrants, most of them rescued at sea under its naval operation Mare Nostrum.
A representative for Baroness Ashton, EU’s outgoing foreign policy chief, wrote on Twitter: “We wish to express our condolences to the families and friends of the victims. [They] fell victim to unscrupulous networks of human smugglers and died trying to reach Europe. The EU is committed to continued action aimed at attempting to prevent such tragedies from happening again.”