Shipwreck in Italy: After the tragedy, there is no peace for the dead or the living



Two weeks after a boat full of migrants sank off southern Italy, neither the living nor the dead are at rest, and the missing – mostly children – continue to wash up on beaches.

The last one – a five-six-year-old girl – was found on Saturday morning, bringing the death toll to 74 in the February 26 cliff fall in Kutro village. Almost half of them are minors.

The local coroner’s office has named many of the dead, including 42-year-old Afghan journalist Torpekai Amarkhel, whose husband and two of her three children were killed.

Another of her children, a seven-year-old girl, is still among the nearly 30 people believed to have died in the tragedy.

Her sister, Mida Amarkhel, who has relocated to Rotterdam, told Unama News radio, a United Nations project, that Amarkhel fled Afghanistan with her family after persecution against women.

Shahida Raza, who played football and hockey for the Pakistan national team, was among the dead. A friend said she traveled in hopes of securing a better future for her disabled son.

Initially, those found were given alphanumeric code numbers, not names. When first responders found the body of Abiden Jafari, 28, from Afghanistan, they identified him only as KR16D45 – KR for nearby Crotone – because he was the 16th victim found, the wife of D, or 45, his estimated age.

But after taking her to the morgue, they discovered she was a women’s rights activist under threat from the Taliban, leading her to risk her life at sea.

The six-year-old boy’s body, first identified as KR70M6, was named by his brother Hakef Taymuri.

A family photo of the older brother wearing the same shoes as the young boy washed at the beach. His parents and two-year-old brother were also killed in the accident. A third brother remains among the missing.

The deceased were also caught up in the struggle between the Italian state and family members.

The interior ministry ordered that all bodies be sent from Calabria to an Islamic cemetery in Bologna for burial, in accordance with Italian protocol for irregular migrants trying to enter Italy.

Family members who survived the drowning or traveled from other parts of Europe to claim their loved ones’ remains demonstrated on Wednesday with makeshift signs and a sit-in outside the auditorium.

After tense negotiations, the prefecture of Croton confirmed to CNN that 25 families, mostly Afghans and Syrians, had agreed to bury their loved ones in Bologna.

All those who have not been identified will be buried in Bologna together with the remains of a Turkish citizen identified as one of the traffickers.

Pieces of wood washed up on a beach two days after a boat carrying migrants sank in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
Most of the dead are not sent home for burial.

The fate of the rest remains a point of negotiation, but Crotone Mayor Vincenzo Vose said the Italian state would pay for them to return to their countries of origin or be buried with family members in other parts of Italy.

Italy’s Interior Ministry told CNN it could not comment on what would happen to the remains of the victims, but confirmed that the previous protocol does not include paying for the repatriation of anyone trying to enter Italy. as an irregular migrant, but to pay the country of origin. expenses. Not a single repatriation has taken place in the last decade, the ministry said.

Of the 82 survivors, three Turkish nationals and one Pakistani national have been arrested for human trafficking, and eight are still in hospital.

Most of the survivors were moved this week to a hotel in Croton, where dormitories have a men’s bathroom and a women’s bathroom, after human rights activists led by Italian left-wing politician Franco Mari protested their detention conditions. the floor for sleeping only includes chairs and mattresses.

Marie, who went to the reception center, wrote on Twitter that none of the survivors had sheets, towels or pillows. Another 12 people were transferred to a reception center for abandoned minors.

In the context of the saga of what to do with survivors and victims, there is a burning fire from the rescue itself.

The European Frontex border control plane spotted the ill-fated ship a day before it sank and informed the Italian coast guard.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that the vessel had not been identified as a migrant boat and was not in any way involved in an accident.

Thermal imaging camera footage released by the Coast Guard shows that only one person was seen aboard the ship when it flew over it.

Survivors told media and human rights groups that they were confined to the ship’s hull during the four-day journey from Turkey and were only allowed to get air for certain periods of time.

Crotone’s prosecutor’s office confirmed to CNN that it has filed a criminal case over the circumstances of the botched rescue after more than 40 human rights associations and non-governmental organizations signed a petition demanding the release of all records to determine whether anyone could have failed to help. to a ship in accordance with maritime law.

The Council of Ministers, led by Prime Minister Georgia Maloney, met on Thursday on the Cutro disaster and said it would focus on targeting human trafficking rings and increasing prison sentences for drug traffickers. 30 years old man.

Protests began against the Italian government, which made stopping the migrant boats a priority.

Demonstrators holding signs reading “not in my name” hit a number of government vehicles with stuffed animals in the town of Cutro to protest against the blocking of migrants and refugees from entering Europe through Italy.

Ministers also spoke of “accelerating the asylum mechanism” instead of increasing the quota of 82,700 migrants eligible for asylum in 2023. So far this year, more than 17,600 people have reached Italy by sea.

In 2022, 105,131 people entered our country by sea. The asylum process often takes three to five years, depending on the country of origin. People who are not from host countries but are economic migrants are returned to their country of origin.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said that priority will be given to the Afghan citizens who survived. It is not yet known whether those who do not meet the conditions will be returned to their country of origin.

Meloni’s right-wing government has vowed to crack down on human traffickers and NGO rescue ships. But the boats are still arriving – hundreds of migrants were rescued over the weekend – and there are signs they will arrive sooner than ever. This drama probably won’t be the last.

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