Trade unions and progressive movements in Greece condemned the death of 23 refugees in two incidents of boats capsizing in the Mediterranean region on January 11, Saturday. One accident took place in the Ionian Sea near Paxi, Greece, in which around 12 people died and 21 were rescued. The other boat capsized in the Aegean Sea near Cesme, Turkey, killing 11 people, including eight children. Eight others were rescued by the coastal authorities.
According to reports, the boat which capsized in the Ionian Sea was carrying around 50 refugees who were taken on board from the Greek coast near Paxi. They were trying to make their way to Italy. The other boat was ferrying refugees from Turkey to the Greek island of Chios.
Millions of people have been uprooted from their land due to the ongoing civil wars and imperialist conflicts in north Africa and west Asia. Over the years, tens of thousands of migrants fleeing violence and persecution have died while trying to cross the perilous Mediterranean in vessels that are not seaworthy. Most of those who have survived the ordeal, especially those rescued by coast guards and rescue ships, have been forced to live in overcrowded camps in the islands of southern Greece. Countries like Italy have barred the entry of refugee boats and rescue ships to its ports. On a few occasions, due to massive international outrage, a few rescue ships carrying refugees have been officially granted permission to dock.
In the aftermath of the two tragic events, public outrage is mounting against the domestic and international mechanisms for monitoring the crisis around refugees.
The All Workers Militant Front (PAME) in Greece, in its statement, has called the latest tragedy near Paxi a premeditated crime. “The imperialist competitions have turned the Mediterranean into a wet tomb. Imperialist organizations and their governments are the real causes of the shipwreck, the tragedy for the uprooted who was trying to escape from the wars that US-NATO-EU have unleashed in the region for the profits of a handful of monopoly groups.”
As the northern border of Greece has been closed for the refugees trying to move to western Europe, migrants in the overcrowded camps in the islands of southern Greece have been desperately trying to cross the sea to reach Italy. Far-right sections in the Mediterranean countries continue to vilify the refugees reaching the region as a source of terror and have been advocating for a ban on the entry of refugees into these countries.