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Family Dreads the Worst as Four Men and a Boy are Unaccounted for Following Mediterranean Ship Tragedy

by Andrew Wright
1 comment
Mediterranean ship disaster

With hopes for an improved quality of life far from their conflict-ridden hometown in northeastern Syria, four men and a 14-year-old boy from the Sheikhi family embarked on a journey towards Europe.

Ignoring the admonitions of an elderly relative, the group boarded a fishing trawler from Libya to Italy, intending to traverse Europe overland and reach Germany.

However, instead of arriving in Italy, the boat toppled over and sank on Wednesday in the vast depths of the Mediterranean, approximately 75 kilometers (45 miles) off the coast of Greece. The vessel might have been carrying around 750 passengers. As of early Friday, hundreds were still unaccounted for during the final day of search operations. If officials’ expected findings align with the families’ worst apprehensions, this could be among the deadliest shipwrecks in the Mediterranean in recent memory.

Five members of a single family were on board, including 29-year-old Ali Sheikhi, a father of three boys. He left his wife and young children, aged 6, 5, and 2, in hopes of reuniting in Europe and providing them with a better education, a luxury they could no longer avail in their homeland.

Ali’s brother, 38-year-old Abdo Sheikhi, said, “He wanted to save his children.” Abdo himself had made it to Germany seven years prior, while his five relatives departed from Kobani, a border town near Turkey, in early March.

Once seen as a beacon of triumph against the Islamic State militants in 2015, Kobani now bears the scars of more than a decade of war and national discord, much like the rest of Syria. With no investment or peace prospects, many in northeastern Syria are risking higher stakes following the path of previous migrants to Europe, primarily due to Turkey fortifying its borders and making land crossings more challenging.

Several of the missing Syrians were from Daraa, a region in southernmost Syria, near the Jordanian border.

Abdo’s five relatives managed to pass through government-controlled Syria to Lebanon, then flew to Cairo before making their way to Tripoli, and finally arriving in Tobruk, Libya by land. Apart from the funds used to get to Libya, they were expected to pay $6,000 each to the traffickers upon arrival in Italy.

“We thought they would get there safely in three or four days,” said Mohamed Abdi Marwan, an uncle, speaking over the phone from the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani.

Nine survivors were detained on Thursday on suspicion of being involved in organizing the ill-fated voyage, according to the Greek coast guard. State-run ERT TV reported the suspects were all Egyptian.

“In Syria, there is no chance for a decent life,” Abdo Sheikhi stated. Despite his warnings about the dangerous and long route via Libya, he said, “They were determined. They believed they could make it too.”

Another German-based relative, Shahin, said the last he heard from his kin, they complained about the harsh conditions during their prolonged wait in Libya. They were kept in confined spaces to evade detection, often deprived of their phones, and received inadequate food.

“They were squeezed seven to a room… They didn’t see the sun,” Shahin said. Despite their melancholy and despair, they wouldn’t consider returning to Syria.

On the eve of their departure, the men from the Sheikhi family notified their relatives that they would soon embark on a boat supposedly carrying 300 people, as the elder Sheikhi informed.

They waited for a confirmation photograph from Italy, which never arrived.

Abdo Sheikhi said, “The (sm

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mediterranean ship disaster

What happened in the Mediterranean ship disaster involving Syrian refugees?

In the Mediterranean ship disaster, a fishing trawler carrying Syrian refugees capsized and sank off the coast of Greece. The boat was headed from Libya to Italy, and it is estimated that it may have had up to 750 passengers on board. The incident resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives, making it one of the worst shipwrecks in recent history.

Who were the individuals involved in the Mediterranean ship disaster?

The disaster involved four men and a 14-year-old boy from the Sheikhi family, who were seeking better lives in Europe. The family members left their war-torn town in northeast Syria, hoping to reach Germany. They ignored warnings from an older relative and embarked on the ill-fated journey.

What were the motivations behind the family’s decision to embark on the dangerous journey?

The family hoped to escape the dire circumstances in their hometown and provide a better future for their children. They aimed to reunite in Europe and offer the children improved educational opportunities, which were lacking in their war-scarred home. Their decision was driven by the desire to ensure a brighter and safer future for their family.

What challenges did the Syrian refugees face during their journey?

The refugees faced numerous challenges throughout their journey. They had to navigate through government-controlled Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Libya before boarding the ill-fated fishing trawler. They also encountered difficulties posed by smugglers, who restricted their movement, confiscated their phones, and provided inadequate living conditions. Additionally, they faced the perilous risks associated with crossing the Mediterranean Sea in overcrowded and unsafe vessels.

What actions have been taken to address the situation following the ship disaster?

Search and rescue operations were launched to locate survivors and recover bodies from the wreckage. Nine survivors were apprehended on suspicion of involvement in organizing the voyage. Authorities continue to investigate the incident and provide support to the affected families. Efforts are also being made to address the larger issue of human smuggling and improve conditions for refugees seeking safer routes to Europe.

What impact does this ship disaster have on the ongoing refugee crisis?

The ship disaster serves as a tragic reminder of the risks and dangers faced by refugees attempting to reach Europe. It highlights the desperate measures that individuals and families undertake to escape conflict and seek better lives. The incident calls for increased international attention and efforts to address the root causes of the refugee crisis, improve safe migration pathways, and provide support for conflict-affected regions.

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1 comment

JohnDoe93 June 17, 2023 - 3:02 pm

wow, dis is such a tragic shipwreck. those poor Syrian refugees. 🙁 y cant dey find a safer way to go to Europe?! smh.

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