What do you know about the tragedy off the coast of Greece

the Sinking A dangerously overcrowded fishing boat carrying hundreds of migrants near the Greek coast earlier this month has become one of the deadliest refugee tragedies in recent years, and the already terrifying death toll is set to rise.

While just over 100 migrants were rescued at sea, officials have recovered more than 80 bodies and up to 500 people, including children, are still missing and feared dead, according to The Guardian. Greek authorities and United Nations officials. Many of the men were arrested by Greek officials Accused Smuggling of African and Middle Eastern immigrants on fishing vessel.

The humanitarian catastrophe has put the international spotlight on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean made by thousands of migrants Per month In the hope of reaching Europe, as well as the increasingly strict immigration policies adopted by European countries amid mass influxes of refugees and growing resentment of immigrants domestically. It also raised questions about the actions or inactions of the Greek authorities before the boat capsized.

Here’s what you need to know about the tragedy.

What happened?

On June 13, aircraft operated by the EU border agency Frontex spotted a fishing boat in international waters near Greece that was “heavily packed” and “moving at a slow speed”. an agency He said With a sigh, she informed the Italian and Greek officials of the boat’s location.

The aircraft monitored the trawler for about 10 minutes before it had to return to base to refuel. Frontex provided additional air support to the Greek authorities in [June 13] The agency said in a statement to CBS News that Greek officials instead asked the agency to send a drone to another migrant rescue incident in the east off the coast of Crete, but it received no response.

video It shows on the Frontex plane that the boat was so overcrowded that day, dozens of migrants were seen side by side on the boat alone. United Nations migration agency estimated The ship was carrying between 400 and 750 immigrants.

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An undated photo provided by the Greek Coast Guard shows migrants on a boat before it capsizes near the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea, off Greece, June 14, 2023. / Credit: HELLENIC COAST GUARD / REUTERS

Greek Coast Guard He said It asked nearby ships to help the trawler, and later sent a boat of its own after being notified of the incident. The Greek Coast Guard said that one of its boats arrived at the site of the stricken fishing vessel on the evening of June 13. According to the coast guard, the migrants on the boat refused the offer of assistance and said they wanted to continue their journey to Italy.

In the early morning of June 14, Greek coast guard officials said, the fishing boat capsized and sank about 47 nautical miles from the port city of Pylos on the Peloponnese peninsula. Greek officials said the boat’s engine was out of order.

The coast guard added that the rescued survivors were taken to Kalamata, a city on the Greek mainland. The United Nations refugee agency said in a statement to CBS News that the migrants on the boat came from Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan and Syria. One town in Pakistan She lost an entire generation of her youth.

As of 28 June, Greek authorities have confirmed 104 survivors rescued and 82 bodies recovered.

What did the survivors say?

Survivors of the tragedy told the media that the fishing boat was badly overcrowded. Some said the boat started moving after other ships offered supplies and people on board battled for them.

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Other survivors have done so Tell Media reported that Greek authorities attempted to tow the boat, causing the ship to rock back and forth. Some of them are partial Blame Greek officials of the tragedy. Greek government officials have so far denied that the authorities attempted to tow the boat, stating that the ship sank due to engine failure and the movement of migrants.

But UN officials and other advocates for migrants have said Greek authorities have a duty to intervene early and get migrants off the boat, even if they refuse to help.

Rescued migrants sit inside a warehouse in Kalamata, Greece on June 15, 2023. / Credit: Angelos Tzortzinis/Afp/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Rescued migrants sit inside a warehouse in Kalamata, Greece on June 15, 2023. / Credit: Angelos Tzortzinis/Afp/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“The duty to rescue persons in danger at sea without delay is a fundamental rule of international maritime law,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement. “Both masters and states are under an obligation to provide assistance to those in distress at sea regardless of their nationality, status, or the circumstances in which they are found, including on board unseaworthy vessels, and regardless of the intentions of those on board.”

The Greek government said in a statement that many of the questions posed by CBS News are under investigation and cannot be answered due to legal limitations associated with the ongoing investigation.

Are these tragedies common?

Yes. Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean are becoming increasingly common as more people go to sea in hopes of reaching Europe.

Syrian survivor Mohammed, 18, who was rescued with other refugees and migrants off Greece after their boat capsized, cries as he is reunited with his brother Fadi, who came to meet him from the Netherlands, in the port of Kalamata, Greece, on June 16, 2023. / Credit : STELIOS MISINAS / REUTERS

Syrian survivor Mohammed, 18, who was rescued with other refugees and migrants off Greece after their boat capsized, cries as he is reunited with his brother Fadi, who came to meet him from the Netherlands, in the port of Kalamata, Greece, on June 16, 2023. / Credit : STELIOS MISINAS / REUTERS

More than 27,000 migrants have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean since 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations migration agency. In the first six months of 2023, the agency recorded nearly 2,000 deaths and disappearances of migrants in the Mediterranean. Officials said those numbers are likely to be underestimated due to data collection limitations.

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The majority of migrant deaths have occurred in the Central Mediterranean, the sea’s busiest migration corridor. European Border Agency, Frontex, registered More than 50,000 migrants were detected in the central Mediterranean during the first five months of 2023 alone, an increase of 160% over the same period in 2022.

Over the past decade, individual disasters have claimed the lives of hundreds of immigrants. In 2014, nearly 500 immigrants died when… boat sinking off the coast of Malta.

What are the policies of Greece and Europe towards immigrants?

After more than a million mostly Syrian refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, many countries on the continent have adopted more restrictive asylum and immigration policies, in part due to the rise of far-right political parties that have used anti-immigrant rhetoric to spur frustration. voters.

While EU member states still have relatively generous asylum laws on paper, several countries such as Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Italy and Greece have sought to tighten border controls, tighten asylum rules and increase deportations. Even Sweden, which took in the largest number of refugees during the 2015 crisis along with Germany, recently proposed restricting immigration.

Increasingly hardline policies targeted newcomers from Africa and the Middle East. After the mass exodus of millions of refugees from Ukraine in the aftermath of the Russian invasion, all European countries, including Poland and Hungary, welcomed the displaced Ukrainians with open arms.

The Greek government, which has complained of bearing a disproportionate burden of refugee flows due to Greece’s location in the Mediterranean and its proximity to Asia, has long been struggling. Accused by human rights officials Maltreatment immigrants and breach of international law. reports documented cases of Greek officials abandoning asylum seekers, including women and children, at sea, in violation of international refugee law and EU policy.

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