A year and a few months after the “left-to-die boat” case lead to international indignation, another dramatically similar incident reveals how, despite the changed geopolitical situation, migrants keep dying in the Mediterranean sea in appalling conditions.
Last year, in March 2011, 63 people who had left Tripoli in the attempt to reach the Southern shores of Italy, died after drifting for 14 days at sea. This incident occurred during the international military intervention in Libya and as such in meticulously surveyed waters. Several damning reports were released on the failures of a series of actors and a legal case was filed in France for non-assistance. Now, despite the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the end of the international intervention in Libya, Boats4People has learned during an interview conducted this morning in Zarzis, Southern Tunisia, about another tragic case that shows once again the dramatic effects of the European migration regime.
Abbas, an Eritrean national who is the only survivor of this incident, was found on Tuesday at 14:30 by a Tunisian fisherman 35 miles off the coasts of Zarzis. He was hanging onto the remains of the rubber dinghy with which he had left Tripoli around 14 days earlier with 56 people on board (20 Somalians, 2 Sudanese and 34 Eritreans), among which his older brother and two sisters. After approximately 26 hours of navigation, the boat, which was in very bad conditions, capsized and only Abbas managed to hold onto the boat, whose engine was nevertheless damaged after falling into the water. He drifted alone for fourteen days in the open sea, occasionally sighting in the distance other vessels. After finally rescued by a Tunisian fisherman yesterday, a patrol boat of the Tunisian “Garde National Maritime” was sent out and took him onboard at 15:30. He was brought to the hospital in Zarzis, where he received treatment for dehydration and extreme exhaustion.
Boats4People denounces once again the policy of border closure that oblige migrants to resort to dangerous means to cross the Mediterranean as well as the criminalization of assistance to migrants in distress at sea, which have de facto transformed the Mediterranean in a cemetery.
In collaboration with researchers of the Forensic Oceanography project at Goldsmiths College, Boats4People will keep inquiring to determine if any measure could have been taken to avert the tragic fate of the passengers of this boat.
Boats 4 People says a video of the interview will soon be made available, and offers more information on the incident, via near-real-time mapping platform WatchTheMed: https://watchthemed.crowdmap.com/reports/view/23
- Migrants die of thirst off N African coast (aljazeera.com)