Two Iraqi families drown in Aegean Sea
On 9 August, a boat carrying 13 migrants, 12 Iraqis and one Syrian, capsized in the Aegean Sea, southwest of Turkey’s Aydin province. Nine of the people on board the boat died. The group of migrants were attempting to reach Greece to seek refuge in Europe.
According to Anadolu News Agency, the Turkish coastguard sent two boats and a helicopter to the site of the incident. They were able to rescue three men and one child, but found the bodies of two women and their seven daughters in the sea.
Hunar Raad and his son survived the ordeal, but his wife and his three daughters, between six and 10 years old, passed away. The family was from Tuz Khurmatu in Kirkuk province.
Another family from Basra province, a mother with her three daughters, all handicapped, also died in the incident.
Hunar Raad told Anadolu Agency: “My family and the other family each paid $3,000 to the smugglers. I asked the organizers for a life vest. They said, ‘No, just get on, otherwise, we’ll kill you.”
“They made us get on the boat by [showing a] gun. They told us they have our money and they won’t give it back to us if we don’t sail,” Hunar added.
Kurdistan 24 reported that the group of migrants were told by smugglers that they would be traveling safely on a large boat. However, once they arrived at the coast they realized the boat was made of plastic and was not strong enough for the crossing.
Hunar’s brother, Shamal Raad, told Kurdistan 24: “We ask the Iraqi and Kurdistan region’s governments to work immediately to return their bodies in order to be buried here in Kurdistan.”
Ari Jalal, head of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, said his organization was helping with the return of the victims’ bodies. “We coordinated with the Iraqi embassy in Turkey and the victims’ families to facilitate the return of their bodies to Iraq and Kurdistan,” he said.
TMP – 15/08/2018
Photo caption: Hunar Raad, who lost his wife and three daughters in the incident