Greece (MNN) – Officials believe up to 500 refugees may have died when an overcrowded ship, which was supposed to take them to a new life, sunk in the Mediterranean near Libya.
The emigrants were being loaded onto the already-crowded ship from a smaller boat when the ship capsized, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The 41 survivors were either still on the smaller boat, or were in the process of boarding the ship and were able to swim back to the boat.
Those survivors came from North and East Africa. They had drifted at sea for up to three days before being rescued Saturday, according to UNHCR.
Such occurrences demonstrate just how desperate these people are, said AMG International Director of International Missions Bill Passons.
“As they were transferring people from one boat to another, the boat sank. There was hundreds on there and 41 survived,” he said. “It’s another tragic situation and it speaks to the desperate situation that people are in and how they are being taken advantage of. They are traveling in conditions that aren’t, in any ways, safe.”
A merchant ship rescued the survivors, who came from Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. They were taken to Greece, according to UNHCR:
“After several hours at sea, the smugglers in charge of the boat attempted to transfer the passengers to a larger ship carrying hundreds of people in terribly overcrowded conditions. At one point during the transfer, the larger boat capsized and sank. So far this year, 179,552 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean to reach Europe. At least 761 have died or gone missing attempting the journey,”
Many of the emigrants come from middle-class homes, Passons said. But the cost they pay to try and get to Europe is incredibly high. Most of them are impoverished by the time they are crossing the Mediterranean.
“They’ve had to leverage everything they have to get away,” he said. When they reach Greece the refugees need the basics of life. “That’s the need, that is where AMG is trying to step in and help.”
AMG is working with refugees in Greece to meet their needs for food, water, and shelter, and also to share the love of Christ. Learn how you can help here.