Thursday, June 15, 2023

Pope is deeply saddened by loss of life as migrants drown in Mediterranean


An aerial photo of the ship carrying hundreds of migrants off the coast of GreeceAn aerial photo of the ship carrying hundreds of migrants off the coast of Greece  (AFP or licensors)

Pope deeply dismayed by tragic loss of lives in the Mediterranean

Pope Francis sends a telegram of condolence to the Apostolic Nuncio in Greece, following what may be one of the worst migrant tragedies in Mediterranean waters.

By Francesca Merlo

Upon hearing of the tragedy involving a shipwreck carrying migrants off the coast of Greece, on Wednesday 14 June, Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence addressed to Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawłowski, Apostolic Nuncio in Greece.

Initial reports said at least 78 people drowned and more than 100 were rescued. Survivors however say there could have been as many as 750 people on the boat, including many children. Observers warn it could be one of the biggest migrant tragedies ever.

In the telegram signed on his behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope writes that he is "deeply dismayed to learn of the shipwreck off the coast of Greece with its devastating loss of life."

Offering heartfelt prayers "for the many migrants who have died, for their loved ones and for all those traumatised by this tragedy", the Holy Father invokes the Lord's gifts of "strength, perseverance and hope" upon the survivors and the emergency personnel providing them with care and shelter.

This tragedy

This is yet another crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, but the incredily high number of passengers on the ship, when compared to all those who have not yet been recovered, bring fears that this may be the worst migrant ship tragedy to have struck the Mediterranean.

Greece's coastguard is being highly criticised for not having intervened, but its authorities say that the offers of aid they tried to give were all being refused. 

Hopes of finding more survivors are less and less. The majority of those who survived the shipwreck are men, who tell the same stories - with similar figures - of the numbers of passengers on the ship, including the amount of people locked in the hold, of whom an estimated 100 were children.

It is said that often smugglers lock people in the hold to try and keep control.

What happened?

The coastguard said that initial contact was made with the finishing boat at around 2pm local time the day before it sank, and that no request for help had been made.

It continued by stating that after the Greek shipping ministry had repeatedly made contact with the boat, the response had been that it wanted to sail on to Italy.

A few hours before the ship sank, at 6pm, a Maltese-flagged ship provided food and water to the ship, whilst another boat provided water just three hours later. 

At around 01:40 on Wednesday, someone on the boat is said to have notified the Greek coastguard that the vessel's engine had malfunctioned.

Shortly afterwards, the boat capsized, taking only 10 to 15 minutes to sink completely. 

No comments:

Post a Comment