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Egyptian Suspects Detained Following Migrant Shipwreck in Greece

June 17, 2023
Shipwreck survivors seek shelter in a Kalamata port warehouse in Greece. Photo courtesy of AP News.

Nine Egyptians have been arrested on suspicion of engaging in the smuggling of individuals, following the tragic capsizing of a migrant boat off the coast of Greece, which resulted in the loss of at least 78 lives, as reported by Greek public broadcaster ERT.

The fishing boat initially set sail from Egypt without passengers, before picking up migrants in Libya’s port city Tobruk, Greek TV Skai reported. The precarious conditions encountered on the way led to the boat capsizing in Greek waters.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing deep mourning for the victims of the incident, and condemned the continued exploitation by organized criminal networks engaged in illegal migration.

“The Egyptian embassy in Athens is cooperating with the relevant Greek authorities around the clock to search for the missing, extract the bodies of the victims to determine their identities, and identify the number of Egyptian nationals among them,” the statement reads.

The embassy is also monitoring the situation of the survivors whose identities have been established, providing necessary services to them.

The arrest of the nine Egyptians took place in Kalamata, a port located in the Peloponnese region of Greece, as reported by Greek news agency ANA. That region is where survivors of the tragedy are currently receiving necessary care and support.

The majority of individuals aboard the ship were nationals of Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan, an anonymous Greek Shipping Ministry official told Reuters. The boat’s intended destination was Italy.

The shipwreck prompted the International Organization for Migration to express grave concerns, declaring it to be the “largest on record off Greece” and anticipating potential increases in casualty figures. According to Greek government official Ilias Siakantaris, it is estimated that the boat carried as many as 750 people.

Migrants and asylum seekers utilize the Central Mediterranean route to irregularly enter the EU. Setting sail from North Africa and Turkey, they undertake dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea, primarily to reach Italy, and at times, Malta. According to the European Council website, most of these individuals transit through Libya, contributing to the establishment of strong smuggling and trafficking networks in the country.


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