Palestinian institutions follow up situation of refugees shipwrecked at sea

An emergency follow-up delegation was assigned by a consortium of pro-Palestine institutions based in Europe to check up on the state of affairs of the Palestinian and Arab refugees recently shipwrecked off Alexandria’s and Malta’s shores.

The Palestinians in Europe Conference said in a statement on Tuesday a delegation was dispatched to Sicily to assess the survivors’ current situation.

The delegation was headed by Chairman of the Palestinian Forum in Britain, Ziad al-Aloul, and head of the Palestinian Assembly in Italy, Muhammad Hanoun.

The delegation is expected to hold contacts with the official authorities so as to be able to bunch up more updates on the missing and surviving refugees.

Another envoy will drop by Greece’s hospitals to check up on the survivors’ health and provide them with the needed assistance. The delegation will also deliberate over ways to transfer the recovered bodies and carry out the funeral arrangements.

Representative of the Sweden-based Justice Center, Muhamad Abu al-Haija, and representative of the Palestinian Forum in Denmark, Muhamad Salama, will be heading a Scandinavian envoy to Malta.

Meanwhile a crisis cell has been established to keep tabs on future developments.

The move was launched after dozens of Palestinians were claimed to have drowned off the Alexandria coast as a boat carrying some 400 migrants, including children, sank en route to Italy on Wednesday.

The Egyptian authorities on Friday afternoon reported another shipwreck that took away the lives of at least 15 Palestinians.

Another boat, carrying about a dozen persons onboard, is believed to have set out from Libya’s Benghazi on Saturday and has remained out of touch ever since.

Head of the Palestinian Forum in Britain Ziad al-Aloul spoke out against the scarcity in the amount of updates provided on the refugees’ fates and the exact number of the shipwrecked casualties.

The death toll of drowned migrants has been estimated by Italian sources at some 700 refugees, he added.

Aloul said investigations have been underway by the Italian authorities who vowed to follow up the tragedy.

Greek authorities said the vessel was deliberately drowned by a gang of smugglers on Wednesday.

The Palestinian embassy in Athens said in a statement on Tuesday the vessel sank off Alexandria’s waters after it was hit by the Egyptian so-called al-Haj Rezq boat on the borders of Malta shores (some 120 nautical miles away from the Italian shores).

The boat embarked from Alexandria waters in Egypt after it struck a bargain with a “criminal trafficker” dubbed Abu Hamada, the embassy further reported. (palestine-info)

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