Kamaran Yousef's four-month-old child, 14-year-old son Sherwan, and wife Bayan Ajel are missing in the Aegean. Photo: Rudaw
By Yousef Musa
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A family from Zakho is appealing for help finding the bodies of their loved ones who died on the migrant trail to Europe. Their boat sank in the Aegean Sea on April 4.
The family had made an agreement to send relatives from Edirne, Turkey to Greece over land, paying a smuggler 2,000 euros. But instead they were put on a boat, which tragically sank before reaching the Greek shore.
Seventeen Kurds were on the boat. Those who survived are now living in refugee camps in Greece. The bodies of the four victims are yet to be found.
“My son and two of my nephews from Germany have arrived in Greece. They have hired a lawyer and coordinated with the Greek government and the police. They reached the sea but it was militarily prohibited to enter,” one of their grieving relatives, Ismail Khaled, told Rudaw.
“We will not rest until we see them and bury them. We have not begun mourning rituals yet.”
Kamaran Yousef lives in a camp in Greece. His four-month-old child, 14-year-old son Sherwan, and wife Bayan Ajel are missing in the Aegean.
“It was about 4:00 a.m. and the water was somehow high,” Yousef explained. “We have informed the Red Cross and the UN but no one has answered or helped us.”
Hariwan is the father of the fourth victim. He lost his wife in a car accident last year, leaving him to raise his two sons. This year, he faced another tragedy. One of his sons died in the same boat trying to reach Greece. He remembers the last time he saw his son who was traveling with an aunt.
“I was at customs at 10:30 a.m. when they crossed the border [into Turkey]. Their airplane took off from Sirnak at 4:00 p.m. They arrived in Istanbul at dinner time but were not able to eat their dinner and were taken [to the boat] immediately,” Hariwan said.
“I wish I was dead, not them.”
While the overall number of Mediterranean crossings remains far below the levels of 2016, the UNHCR has documented a rise in migrant arrivals to Spain and Greece in the latter part of 2017.
Asylum-seekers arriving by sea to Greece often face extended stays in overcrowded and dire conditions on Greek islands.
More than 3,100 people are believed to have lost their lives at sea last year while traveling to Europe compared to 5,100 in 2016, according to UNHCR. Another 501 people have died or gone missing since the beginning of 2018.