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Eight Palestinians survive migrant shipwreck

The director of the Euro-Mid Observer For Human Rights said Sept. 16 that eight Palestinian migrants from Gaza survived a devastating ship-wreck near Malta, with dozens feared dead. "We have search teams in Malta, Italy, and Greece trying to get information on those Palestinians," Rami Abdo told Ma'an News Agency. According to survivors of the Sept. 14 shipwreck, the Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian, and Sudanese migrants set out from Damietta in Egypt on Sept. 6, and were forced to change boats several times during the crossing towards Europe. The traffickers, who were on a separate boat, then ordered them onto a smaller vessel, which many of the migrants feared was too small to hold them. When they refused to cross over to the new boat, the furious traffickers rammed their boat until it capsized, the survivors told the maritime organization.

"We are talking about illegal smuggling operations involving mafias and gangs, where all possibilities are open," Abdo said. He said there are no precise statistics on the number of Palestinian migrants, but it is likely that hundreds have left the Gaza Strip.

As many as 500 migrants are feared to have drowned in the shipwreck, making it one of the worst shipwrecks in years. According to the UN's refugee agency, over 2,500 people have drowned or gone missing attempting the crossing to Europe in 2014, including over 2,200 since the start of June.

From Ma'an News Agency, Sept. 16

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