Murder on the Mediterranean

Syrian migrant attends commemorative service at harbor in Malta for immigrants who lost their lives at sea.

The deaths of up to 500 mostly Palestinian and Syrian migrants and refugees could be an act of mass murder, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said on Sept. 19. Hundreds of migrant workers and refugees from Gaza and Syrian conflicts were aboard a boat that left from the Egyptian port of Damietta and are feared dead at the hands of human traffickers who rammed and sank the boat off the Malta coast. “The callous act of deliberately ramming a boat full of hundreds of defenseless people is a crime that must not go unpunished,” the high commissioner said. “If the survivors’ accounts are indeed true—and they appear all too credible—we are looking at what amounts to mass murder in the Mediterranean.’’ According to survivors, there may have been 100 children under the age of 10 aboard the boat, among several hundred people crammed into a lower boat deck while several hundred more were on a top deck constantly exposed to the sun.

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