Order Forced Pakistanis Below Deck on Fateful Boat
A trawler carrying around 500 passengers sank off Greece on Wednesday, with many passengers feared dead. Survivors of the incident have shared accounts suggesting that Pakistani nationals were forced below deck and were condemned to the most dangerous part of the vessel. According to reports, women and children were locked up in the hold, while other nationalities were allowed on the top deck. Some new testimonies also claim that the boat’s engine failed days before it sank, which, coupled with the failure of the Greek coastguard to intervene earlier, has raised numerous questions.
Macabre Conditions on Board
A report in The Observer revealed that the boat was in a terrible state, with very little food and water. Before it eventually capsized, six people had already died due to a lack of fresh water. An Italian social worker and activist stated that the passengers were in desperate need of help the day before the tragedy, contradicting the Greek government’s account that passengers didn’t request help. New testimonies have revealed that some Pakistani nationals were maltreated by crew members when they attempted to get fresh water.
Death Toll and Nationalities
No women or children have been counted amongst the survivors. Reports from Pakistan suggest that up to 298 Pakistanis died, while 135 came from the Pakistani side of Kashmir. Regarding the number of passengers, some estimates claim that at least 400 Pakistanis were on board. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has comfirmed that only 12 out of the 78 survivors came from Pakistan. Given the macabre conditions onboard, it is feared that many more people have died.
Greek Coastguard Actions
Questions have been raised as to why the Greek coastguard failed to intervene earlier and take action to escort the boat to safety. It has been confirmed that patrol boats and cargo ships were following the trawler from Tuesday afternoon. Reports indicate that survivors have suggested that a rope attached by coastguards may have caused the boat to capsize. However, this allegation has been denied by Greek officials.
A Call to End the War in Ukraine
Another report concerns the war in Ukraine. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the end of the conflict as it is impacting millions of people globally, including those on the African continent. Ramaphosa accompanied six African leaders on a mission to Moscow and Kyiv to try to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. African countries have been divided over the issue, but Sierra Leone has voted with Western nations in support of resolutions condemning Russia’s actions.
Sierra Leone’s Interest in Ending the War
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio expressed his country’s interest in ending the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible due to its impact on food and fertilizer deliveries from Russia and Ukraine, which are vital for many African nations. The conflict has had a detrimental effect on many African economies already struggling due to COVID-19. The African leaders have stressed the importance of ending the conflict through diplomatic means and have proposed a de-escalation followed by peace negotiations.
Ending the Reliance on Food Imports and Foreign Aid
President Bio has also set out plans to end Sierra Leone’s reliance on food imports and foreign aid. The country’s mineral-dependent economy is still recovering from a brutal civil war that ended in 2002 and the Ebola epidemic of 2014-16. Bio aims to make Sierra Leone self-sufficient and not have to ask other countries for help.
The sinking of the trawler off Greece illustrates how dangerous the journey is for those seeking asylum, with many facing terrible and inhumane conditions on board. The importance of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine has also been underscored, with its impact being felt globally, even on African economies. The tragedy has raised numerous questions about the conduct of the Greek coastguard and the inadequacy of measures to support those seeking refuge.
What happened to the Pakistani passengers on the boat?
Survivors have stated that Pakistani nationals were forced below deck and not allowed access to the safer parts of the vessel. Women and children were locked up in the hold, while other passengers were on the top deck. Reports suggest that many Pakistanis are feared dead.
Why did the boat capsize?
While the exact cause of the capsize is unknown, there are allegations that a rope attached by coastguards may have contributed to the tragedy. Survivors also claim that the boat’s engine failed days before it sank.
What was the African delegation’s mission to Moscow and Kyiv?
The group’s objective is to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine and end the negative impact it is having on African economies. They proposed peace talks to be preceded by a de-escalation of the conflict.
How has the conflict in Ukraine impacted African economies?
African countries rely heavily on food and fertilizer deliveries from Russia and Ukraine, which have been impeded by the conflict. This has had a detrimental effect on African economies, already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is President Bio’s plan for Sierra Leone?
President Bio aims to end Sierra Leone’s reliance on foreign aid and food imports and make the country self-sufficient in food production.