2015-01-02 15:41:00

JRS: migrant ships left adrift shows desperation of Syrians

(Vatican Radio) For the second time in as many days a large cargo ship filled with hundreds of migrants, thought to be mostly Syrians, has been apparently abandoned by its crew whilst en route to Italy. So is this a new tactic by the people smugglers as some contend?  James Stapleton is the International Communications Coordinator for the Jesuit Refugee Service and he spoke to Susy Hodges.


Listen to the interview with James Stapleton of Jesuit Refugee Service:  


Stapleton says this latest incident involving a cargo ship filled with migrants shows the extreme lengths to which Syrians who have been uprooted by their nation’s civil war are prepared to go in order to seek sanctuary for themselves and their families in Europe.  “What we’re seeing is a new level of desperation on the part of Syrians.”  


Stapleton says at this stage it’s still unclear how events really unfolded on board the Ezadeen cargo ship.  “We were told that it’s not clear that the smugglers actually abandoned this ship, that they may have pretended to be part of the crew, also to claim asylum from Italy.”

Stapleton explains that the situation for Syrian refugees who fled to neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Jordan is “getting worse” all the time with money running out, resources stretched to the limit and no chance of employment. “People don’t see any end in sight”, he said, and so are prepared “to take the most desperate measures” to seek a new future. 


With the ending of Italy’s Mare Nostrum rescue mission, Stapleton fears that the dangers being faced by migrants trying to reach Italy by sea will get worse and he predicts that this year could see “an increasing number of deaths.”

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