Statement on the tragedy in Crotone

Tragedy in Cutro - Italy 26th February 2023

*photocredit: ANSA Italy


Another tragedy that could be prevented.

Early on Sunday, a wooden sailing boat carrying refugees crashed into rocks near the coast of Italy’s Calabria region. The boat broke apart while trying to land near Crotone. Authorities confirmed that 62 people have died, including 12 children. According to the coast guard 80 people have been rescued, but dozens are still missing. The exact  number of the victims is not clear, but based on reports from survivors, it is believed that 180 to 200 people had been on board. 

The boat carrying refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Syria had departed from Turkey five days ago. One survivor who is a Turkish national was detained on suspicion of human trafficking.  

Giorgia Meloni, the Prime Minister of Italy, blamed the human traffickers for the deaths, and promised to crack down on departures arranged by human smugglers. Opposition parties and EU officials addressed the flaws in Italy’s migration policy. “Condemning only smugglers is hypocrisy” said Laura Ferrara who is a European Parliament lawmaker, and pointed out the lack of alternative ways for the people who are forced to abandon their country.

Tragedies like this are unfortunately a common occurrence in the Mediterranean region. According to UNITED’s list of refugee deaths, there have been 48.647 documented migrant deaths in the period 1993-2022, thousands more have never been found.  In 2023 alone, there were 327 missing people according to the Missing Migrants Project of the United Nations. We hope that this last incident is a wake-up call for the European leaders, and with cooperation, the safety of refugees is ensured. Pointing fingers and running away from responsibility cannot solve this problem. There needs to be clear cut reforms of the EU asylum process that puts human life at its center to prevent future catastrophes. 

As UNITED, we express solidarity with the victims. We urge European leaders to act now and ensure an urgent migration reform to prevent future tragedies and loss of human life.. What we need is action, not empty rhetoric and speeches.