Refugees breathe sigh of relief as nightmare voyage ends

Wednesday, January 07, 2015
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Corigliano Calabro, Italy: The cargo ship Ezadeen entered in the port of Corigliano Calabro, in southern Italy over the weekend, after it and hundreds of Syrian refugees aboard, had been abandoned by smugglers and left in the Ionian Sea.

It departed from somewhere in Turkey and sailed the sea for more than ten days before being towed by port authorities.

The ship was carrying more than 350 migrants, the majority from Syria. Upon arrival all were given food and shelter in tents on the harbour.
Most were women, men and children, fleeing the war. 

Mohammed is one of this young group of students to risk his life to escape. He said, "I was studying on dental school in Aleppo, so I was at the last year, but I left because of the awful situation in Syria."

Some are university students who decided to make the journey together.
Mohammad said, "Ten days ago they told us there is a journey, so we went to some place, they put us in cars, closed cars, after that they took us I don't where. We crossed the rocks, after that we get on small ship and they took us to this ship. After five days the food and the water finished from the ship."

The migrants and refugees went through identification procedures and were taken to reception centres around Italy.

Mohammed plans to go even further. "Now I plan to go to Germany to continue my studies," he said.

The use of cargo ships to smuggle migrants into Europe is part of a new trend, as smugglers open up a new migratory routes. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is urging European governments to increase their efforts at rescuing people at sea and providing legal alternatives to dangerous voyages, the agency said. 

In 2014, almost 3,500 refugees perished attempting to this dangerous crossing. Over 200,000 were rescued but since the scaling down of one of Italy's rescue missions, there is increased concern that yet more will perish, the agency said. The rescue of the Ezadeen follows a similar rescue of almost 800 migrants aboard another abandoned ship, the Blue Sky M, last Wednesday. -UNifeed
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