According to survivors, smugglers were charging people money for allowing them to come out of the hold in order to breathe. Abdel, 25, from Sudan: “We didn’t want to go down there but they beat us with sticks to force us. We had no air so we were trying to get back up through the hatch and to breathe through the cracks in the ceiling. But the other passengers were scared the boat would capsize so they pushed us back down and beat us too. Some were stamping on our hands.”
UNHCR appeals to all governments involved to provide comprehensive responses and act with humanity and in accordance with their international obligations.
All European countries and the EU must act together in response to the growing emergency and demonstrate responsibility and solidarity.
Melissa Fleming, Geneva