At least 125 Syrians were on board a migrant ship that capsized this week off the coast of Greece, family and campaigners claimed on Friday, as rescuers continued to search the waters for hundreds of others who are presumed to be missing.
According to their uncle, who asked not to be identified for reasons of safety, those on board included a blind 15-year-old boy and his sister who was 28 years old. Both of them were from the southern province of Daraa.
“We have no trace of them, my nephew is blind and does not know how to swim,” he stated over the phone, adding that the duo had flown directly from Damascus to Libya.
“He had a hard life, and for years he was subjected to hearing the noises of combat. He wailed, “He lived in fear, and it’s likely that fear took his life.”
Activists told AFP that the majority of the Syrians were from the war-torn nation’s volatile south, while a relative stated that at least 35 of the people were from Kurdish-held territories in the northern part of the country.
On Wednesday, a rusting trawler that was traveling from Libya to Italy collapsed off the coast of Greece, resulting in the deaths of at least 78 people and the rescue of 104 others.
It is still unknown how many passengers were on board the ship at the time of the incident; however, the United Nations pointed out on Friday that several witness testimonies imply there were between 400 and 750 individuals on board.
According to activists at the Daraa Martyrs Documentation Office, who spoke with AFP, at least 90 passengers, 55 of whom are still missing, came from the southern region of the nation, most of them were from the Daraa province.
“It isn’t surprising to find so many youths from Daraa on this boat,” said one of the activist, asking anonymity due to security concerns. “It isn’t surprising to find so many people from Daraa on this boat.”
“Over the past several years, there has been a massive exodus of young people and families from Daraa because the living conditions and security situation there are absolutely intolerable.”
The Syrian province of Daraa was the origin of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, however the area fell back under the authority of the regime in 2018.
The brother of a guy who was on board the ship that sank told AFP that at least 35 passengers were from the region of northern Syria that is occupied by the Kurdish militia. The individual who was on board was 22 years old.
According to what he heard, his brother was one of the five persons who were able to escape the shipwreck after being submerged in the ocean for at least four hours.
“My brother told me that the boat was very overcrowded,” said the guy, who also did not wish to be named for safety concerns. “My brother told me that the boat was very overcrowded.”
According to his brother, who had traveled through Lebanon and Egypt to get to Libya, “six crew members fled in rubber boats and abandoned passengers,” he added, repeating what his brother had heard.