On June 14th, a fishing boat transporting refugees hundreds of and migrants and refugees sank off Greece, resulting in 78 people dead and many missing.
his incident is one of the most tragic to ever take place in the Mediterranean. As the exact circumstances are unknown, various parties, including the United Nations, are looking into the incident and raising questions which are yet to be answered.
Allegedly, the fishing boat left East Libya on June 9th. The boat’s destination was Italy. According to the UN, while the number of people onboard the boat which capsized on 14 June off the coast of Greece is not clear, it is believed to have been somewhere between 400 and 750.
On 13 June before noon (09:47 UTC), a Frontex plane spotted the fishing vessel inside the Greek search and rescue region in international waters. The ship was heavily overcrowded and was navigating at slow speed (6 knots) direction north-east.
According to the Greek Coast Guard, the boat’s engine stopped working shortly before 1:00 on Wednesday UTC and the vessel later capsized, sinking in about 10 to 15 minutes.
What happened in the meantime is under international investigation and the exact circumstances and cause of the accident are still unclear.
United Nations response
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency have called for urgent and decisive action to prevent further deaths at sea following the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean, the worst in several years.
Another horrific shipwreck in the Mediterranean – this time near Greece – has claimed the lives of scores of people.
As I’ve said before – every person searching for a better life deserves safety & dignity.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) June 14, 2023
The International Maritime Organization’s Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, has also expressed his profound sadness about the large loss of life.
It is a sad fact that thousands of people undertake dangerous sea crossings in unsafe vessels, putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous operators – who have little regard for mandatory regulations such as SOLAS or SAR.
… said Kitack Lim
He also stated that IMO will continue to work with others in the United Nations system, like the Inter-Agency Group on the protection of refugees and migrants moving by sea, to address the complexities of this humanitarian issue.
States need to come together and address the gaps in proactive search and rescue, quick disembarkation, and safe regular pathways. These collective efforts should have the human rights of migrants and saving lives at the center of any response
… said Federico Soda, IOM Director for the Department of Emergencies.