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Migrant crisis: 'My wife and my baby drowned in front of me' – BBC

The people locked up in the stadium in this picturesque port town have an extraordinary story of tragedy and survival.

“My wife and my baby drowned in front of me,” is the first thing Muaz from Ethiopia tells me, before insisting that at least 500 others died when a badlyovercrowded wooden boat capsized.
It is often hard to get accurate information from people who have witnessed what must have been a terrifying and chaotic event. But these survivors, who appear to be in their 20s and 30s, are in no doubt about the scale of this disaster.
“Two-hundred-and-forty of us set off from Libya but then the traffickers made us get on to a bigger wooden boat around 30m in length that already had at least 300 people in it,” said Abdul Kadir, a Somali. Also among the survivors are Ethiopians, Sudanese and Egyptians.

Rescued migrants are taken off the boat
Image captionThe migrants said their boat’s engine had been sabotaged – but the trafficker had made a call for help before departing

The already hugely unstable boat then capsized. All this was happening in the middle of the night in the Mediterranean far from shore.
“I was one of the few who managed to swim back to the smaller boat,” Muaz told me as the sounds of Greek children enjoying the sports facilities outside drifted into the well-guarded room.
A Red Cross worker at the stadium told me that among this group that was rescued were three women and a young child aged just three. The young boy had been taken to hospital as a precaution but was fine. “We have no idea where his parents are but an aunt is with him,” she said.
The survivors were not even sure where they had begun their journey in Libya, but they believed it was the port city of Tobruk.

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The boat the migrants were travelling in
Image captionThe group was rescued by a cargo ship, whose company gave the BBC these pictures

They said the Libyan man in charge of the boat continued the journey across the sea but then the engine broke down. One said it was sabotaged for God knows what reason by the trafficker, who then headed back towards Libya in a small boat that had been tied to the side.
He had apparently helped them with one desperate call for help before abandoning them.
“RESCUE 16 April 2016” was painted in red on the roof.
Later that day a Filipino-flagged cargo ship, Eastern Confidence, heard an alert from the Greek and Italian coast guards.
Now how would you have expected the 41 survivors to have reacted after such an ordeal when, the following morning, they reached dry land? This may surprise you. They were angry.

Coast guard members help migrants to disembark at the port of Kalamata in South Peloponnese, Greece, 17 April 2016Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThe rescued migrants disembark in Greece – they thought they were going to Italy

“The crew of the ship said they were taking us to Italy but instead we ended up here in Greece,” a Somali man said.
“But you survived. You made it,” I replied somewhat startled. After weeks of hardship and unimaginable risk, let alone expense, they clearly felt their mission had failed.
They had even refused to get off the ship as the Eastern Confidence’s log from Sunday morning shows.

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Eastern Confidence ship’s log

Migrants looks out from a bus after arriving at the port of Kalamata in South Peloponnese, Greece, 17 April 2016Image copyrightEPA

08:50 Port Authorities start interrogating the refugees
08:50-09:30 Negotiation… Refugees refused to disembark
09:30-10:00 Port Authorities seek advice from Ministry of Maritime
10:00 Additional Hellenic Coast Guard personnel onboard
10:20 Finally refugees decided to disembarked without force


“They are going to be deported,” a Greek police officer told the BBC.
“They are not from Syria,” he added, implying that they would not qualify for asylum even though in theory they are allowed to apply.

Image captionThe survivors included children
Image captionThe survivors included children

So far no officials from any countries have given out any details of the apparent massive loss of life. That seems inexplicable, but if everything these people have told me is true, the fact that it happened far from land and at night is one possible reason, although not an excuse.
This apparent tragedy happened exactly a year after the worst recorded incident at sea since the migrant crisis had begun, when 700 migrants were feared to have drowned off Libya.
It is a haunting coincidence and a reminder of just how desperate people are – not necessarily to escape war but to escape from poverty. As for the traffickers who are making money overloading the boats – are they not mass murderers, too?
 
Source: BBC

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2 Comments

  1. You got a church, Orthodox church that has been around starting from the first half of the 4th century in Ethiopia practicing the same culture and tradition. Almost everyday is a holiday . Leaving most of the time consuming work to the non-Orthodox followers. Prostitution ,the corruption and the marginalizing of people is done at this place by the wealthy business people Whether in diaspora or back home all the sins that plagued us go on at this place while attending the never ending Orthodox church events.Daily meetings , daily celebrations , daily gatherings , daily phone conversations and so on just to stay in power by exploiting others that are not withion the clique.. They live to boss around others Giving ordders to others is the highlight of their days. Like the saying goes Wuha Kda Wuha Melis (bring the water return the water )They own businesses and enslave others to do their work for them with little to no rewards.for innovation paying them for cheap while they go around attending these events and they don’t feel for a second how they are hurting others They claim they gave the person a job opportunity while in actuality they are giving themselves the chance to conspire on how to keep the country weak while making their few cliques rich and powerfull.. If you don’t follow Orthodox and attend the holiday celebrations you miss out in vital social interactions. Even your own families will try to limit their contact with you to the minimum possible that is if you came from the Orthodox followers family. For sure you will not get any inheritace because you will be put out from the will. Even educated you might get a day laborer job or so since you got no connections and your background check comes out to be so bad nobody wants to hire you just because you are not a regular orhtodox Church attendee .The background check by your own family members or by the Orthodox priest got more weight than any school degrees since nowadays degrees and diplomas can be purchased without attending schools from all of the higher education institutions in Ethiopia.Above all these the TPLF government will try to kill you if you try to expose the corruption that plagued the church since the church is the legal corruption institution that works closely to protect the powerfull and hurt the weak. Many weak people have left the country in exile , many weak people have died trying to cross to Europe drowning , many are imprisoned , many are killed while the powerfull orthodox gets more powerful weakning the weak. This whole cultural reform need to come from the church leaders and the followers which I don’t see it happening since they are comfortable with the way things are. They claim it is their right to attack others and take whatever they can as long as the person is unaware right at the second it happened. . they say it is too late to reverse the land grabing epidemic so they will just watch until all the land is gone.You cannot even write a song about it without getting thrown in jail.

  2. RIP
    They are matryts that died trying to join the fight against TPLF from diaspora.They gave their life for Ethiopia while not selling their country to banda TPLF as many even with USA,European and so on passoprts that went back home to work with TPLF.

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