Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE) is in full solidarity with the families of the victims and the missing in the shipwreck off the Greek coast, and we call on the Egyptian government to intervene urgently and take immediate measures to support the families of the missing Egyptians and provide them with the necessary assistance.
On June 14, the world witnessed the tragedy of the sinking of a boat that was carrying between 700-750 refugees and migrants, including Egyptians, Syrians, Pakistanis, Palestinians, women and children. The Greek authorities announced the recovery of the bodies of no less than 82 people, as well as the recovery of 108 survivors, who were All males, as of Tuesday, June 20, according to unofficial lists at the Egyptian Embassy, 43 people have been rescued.
Greece declared three days of mourning for the victims of the painful accident and detained the survivors in closed centers in the first days after the accident without allowing them to communicate with their families. Pakistan also announced mourning for the Pakistani victims who were on the boat.
In its second report in the series “Sinking a Boat off the Greek Coast“, which talks about “How Cairo responded to the disaster“, RPE monitored the delayed Egyptian government response, as the first official statement issued by the MFA was on June 17, three days after the disaster, in which it consoled the families of the victims, and did not clarify any information about the procedures to be followed with the families or the measures taken by the Egyptian authorities for a joint investigation with the Greek authorities.
Then a statement was issued by the Ministry of Immigration and Affairs of Egyptians Abroad mentioning the data of the survivors without clarifying any procedures related to the missing persons or the procedures to be followed by the families of the missing persons.
After that, the MFA announced, in a statement issued on June 19, 2023, the formation of a specialized committee to follow up on the repercussions of the shipwreck, which would coordinate with the Egyptian Embassy in Athens and the concerned Greek authorities to identify the bodies of the victims and obtain information about the identity of the missing.
However, until today, the Egyptian authorities have not clarified specific information for the families of the missing and the victims, and whether the Egyptian government intends to conduct a joint investigation about the disaster at a time when evidence and testimonies indicate the involvement of the Greek Coast Guard in causing the boat to sink and not carrying out a rescue operation for a boat in distress, while The families’ testimonies indicate that the Egyptian Embassy in Athens and its diplomatic representatives have not provided any support to the families and victims since the disaster was announced until now.
Article 5 of the Protocol “Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air” supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted by the United Nations on November 15, 2000, confirms that migrants should not be subjected to criminal prosecution, because they are victims. Also in Article 9, the importance of taking all preventive measures to ensure the safety of persons on board ships and not to endanger their security.
Article (2) of Law 82 of 2016, known as the “Law on Combating Illegal Immigration and Smuggling of Migrants,” states that “no criminal or civil liability shall be imposed on the smuggled migrant for the crimes of smuggling migrants.” With the consent of the smuggler or with the consent of the person responsible for him or his sponsor in the crimes of smuggling migrants stipulated in this law.”
Article (25) obligates the Egyptian state to provide “appropriate measures to protect the rights of smuggled migrants, including their right to life, humane treatment, health care, and physical, moral and psychological safety…” while giving “special attention to women and children.” Article (26) also obligates the Egyptian authorities to guarantee the migrants’ right to “request to contact the diplomatic or consular representative of his country and informing him of his status to receive possible assistance.
Accordingly, we call on all concerned parties:
1- The Egyptian government: provide comprehensive and accurate information about the incident and provide immediate assistance to the grieving families, ensuring transparency and impartiality in joint investigations with the Greek authorities.
- The Ministry of Immigration and the Affairs of Egyptians Abroad and the Egyptian Embassy in Athens: coordination with the Greek authorities, to determine the identities of the victims, locate the missing, keep the families informed, and provide the necessary support to the families of the victims residing in Greece.
- Legal authorities in Egypt: Ensure that the rights of victims and their families, as stated in Law No. 82 of 2016, are fully protected. The government must pay special attention to women, children and other vulnerable groups affected by the disaster.
2- International organizations and non-governmental organizations: provide adequate support to the families of the victims, including psychological support, legal guidance, and financial assistance, and advocate for transparency and accountability from governments and relevant authorities.
3- Media: ensuring accurate, comprehensive and reliable coverage, highlighting the stories of the victims and their families, and those responsible for causing the disaster, and calling for transparency and accountability.
4- The Greek government and coast guard: cooperate fully with Egyptian counterparts in providing information about victims and survivors, and ensure a thorough and transparent investigation into the accident.
5- All: Show solidarity with the victims and their families, use social media to express solidarity and provide support to the families of the victims, contribute to donations for the affected families, demand transparency and work with the Egyptian government.
Let’s stand together at this difficult time to ensure that victims’ families receive support and that justice is served.