The latest: In an official confirmation, the Taliban’s foreign ministry late on Tuesday night revealed that at least 80 Afghan migrants, including women and children, had died when the boat capsized near off the southern coast of Italy on Sunday.
- “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 stated.
- It also added that while the group supports the victims and prays for their families, it is urging all citizens to avoid going to foreign countries through irregular migration.
- The Taliban has also called upon aid organisations involved in the search and rescue operation to help with the return of the deceased’s bodies to Afghanistan.
- No other information was provided, and the identities of the deceased Afghan migrants have not yet been made public.
Why it matters? After the Taliban seized power in August 2021, many Afghans have been trying to flee their reign due to fear of reprisal from the group’s fighters. Many include former security forces members and their families who despite the general amnesty announced by the Taliban are still facing torture and brutal death in Afghanistan under the group’s rule.
- Others who are trying to flee include those who are suffocating under the Taliban’s hardline policies be it women, girls, civil activists or human rights defenders who now have no voice in the country.
- 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. 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.
Zoom out: Earlier last week, Italian news agencies reported that there were at least 200 people on board when the boat sank in heavy seas near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria.
- The boat carrying migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan has crashed against rocks during rough sea weather, according to officials.
- According to the U.N. agency for refugees, Afghans made up over half of all arrivals last year by sea between Turkey and Italy.