The latest: As opposed to the earlier count of 32 deaths, the Afghan embassy in Rome on Thursday announced an increase in the number of victims of the shipwreck carrying refugees in Italy to 91.
- In a statement, the embassy said that 91 of the victims who died in the incident are Afghan citizens and the bodies of 48 people have been identified and death certificates have been issued for 46 people.
- Almost all relatives of the victims have allowed the Italian government officials to bury their family members in the cemetery in the city of Crotone and nearby cemeteries, the embassy statement said.
- Approximately, 180 people were on board at the time of the incident on the ill-fated ship.
- Khaled Ahmad Zekriya, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Italy, had said in a meeting with Italian Foreign Ministry officials, he stressed on the acceleration of the investigation into the incident.
- The Taliban had previously issued a statement asking aid organisations to transfer the bodies of these victims to Afghanistan.
Back story: On February 27, an inflatable boat carrying Afghan refugees sank off the coast of the southern Italian city of Crotone. The boat had been carrying migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan and crashed against rocks during rough sea weather, according to officials.
- “With great sadness, we learned that 80 Afghan refugees, including women and children, who were travelling from Turkey to Italy in a wooden boat, drowned and died in the southern sea of Italy,” the Taliban’s foreign ministry had stated.
- Then, the Afghan embassy in Rome said that only 32 dead had been identified as Afghan migrants.
Zoom out: After the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, thousands of Afghan citizens have immigrated to different countries in the region and around the world. Many Afghans have been trying to flee their reign due to fear of reprisal from the group’s fighters. However, apart from these individuals, even an ordinary Afghan citizen is trying to flee from the country because of the growing humanitarian crisis and lack of food, money or shelter in the country.
- According to the U.N. agency for refugees, Afghans made up over half of all arrivals last year by sea between Turkey and Italy. All Afghans are currently looking for some kind of hope by leaving the country for another nation in order to build a new life there which has exacerbated the refugee outflow from Afghanistan.