Maureen Renfro's Blog: The Italy Bound Ghost ship With 796 Migrants Abandoned Onboard

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Italy Bound Ghost ship With 796 Migrants Abandoned Onboard

Herded like cattle into the rusty hull of an ageing merchant vessel, these are the desperate migrants abandoned by people traffickers to drift helplessly at sea.
The grainy photo – taken on board freighter Blue Sky M – reveals how 796 migrants including women and children were packed together in squalor on the freezing metal floor.

It was taken by a 35-year-old Syrian, who claims he paid almost £11,000 for himself and his pregnant wife to make the journey.

And on board a second so-called ghost ship, authorities this week found 359 people shivering and starving who had been crammed into freezing livestock holds on a 50-year-old freighter called Ezadeen.

With nowhere to sit or sleep, the migrants were forced to squeeze between metal bars designed to contain cattle and sheep and huddle together in the filthy pens.
The passengers, including 54 women – several of whom were pregnant – and 74 children, eight of whom were unaccompanied, endured a miserable ten-day voyage before they were rescued on Friday night.
They ran out of food, drink and fuel after five days, when the smugglers apparently locked them in the decaying vessel and escaped on a lifeboat.

Police believe the traffickers made almost £2million from the ‘socially well-off’ illegal migrants, believed to be from war-torn Syria, who would have each paid between £2,000 and £5,000 for their place on the perilous journey.

The migrants will now be taken to immigration centres and assessed to see if they have a valid claim for asylum.

Before they can be granted asylum they must persuade authorities that they are fleeing persecution and would face harm or death if sent back to their country of origin.