“In the evening, my son told me that the weather was not clear. I told him not to get on the boat, but he didn’t listen to me,” said Bibi, 50, after giving a DNA sample at a local hospital.
From Greece to Pakistan, from Pylos to Badli, the tragic shipwreck of the night of June 13 has left its mark.
In this small Pakistani town of Badli, home to 24 young people who may be among the hundreds who drowned, it has left entire families inconsolable.
In recent days in Budli, relatives of the missing have been giving DNA samples to help identify the 82 dead from the shipwreck off Pylos.
Visitors came and went to the homes of desperate families in this town of 15,000 people, a four-hour drive southeast of Islamabad in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir.
Relatives of missing persons remained sitting, face down, on the streets. As if holding on to a vain hope, funerals have not yet been held.
Shahnaz Bibi told AFP she spoke by phone with her 20-year-old son Inaam Shafat, a day before an old and overloaded fishing boat left Libya for Mediterranean waters, taking one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes.
“In the evening, my son told me that the weather was not clear. I told him not to get on the boat, but he didn’t listen” said 50-year-old Bibi after giving a DNA sample at a local hospital.
“He said to me: “Mother, I leave you, having the protection of Allah. Pray for meshe adds, her voice hoarse from crying, wiping the tears with her shawl.
Greek authorities do not know exactly how many people were on board when the shipwreck occurred, one of the worst in the eastern Mediterranean in recent years.
“People don’t cooperate”
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimate that between 400 and 750 passengers, including women and children, were on board.
According to a preliminary investigation by the Pakistani police, about 800 people were on board the boat.
Hundreds of the migrants are believed to be from Pakistan, mainly from the provinces of Punjab and Kashmir.
An official from Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told AFP that more than 75 families have reported the disappearance of a relative believed to be on board the boat.
Sarfraz Khan Virk, a senior FIA official in Lahore, told reporters that in the past after such tragedies, many families refused to talk to the authorities.
“They tell us: we want to send another son (to Europe) and we will get into trouble if you open a case“, he said.
“There are families who had sent a first sibling to Italy and after a failed attempt for the second sibling, want to send the third. So we have a lot of problems and people are not cooperating with us“, he added.
Pakistan is struggling with serious economic difficulties: galloping inflation, devaluation of the rupee, limited imports and low industrial output.
“The flows will not stop”
Pakistani Kashmir, where Badli is nestled among lush green hills, has historically been the point of departure for many migrants seeking a better life elsewhere, braving danger.
Many human traffickers operate in this area. Authorities said they had arrested 15 suspects allegedly linked to the Pylos wreck.
“What happened to our brother should not happen to anyone else. Human trafficking is on the rise, it won’t stopsays Wahid Wazir, 38, whose younger brother Imran, 32, is missing.
“People traffickers who are caught should not be released. They must be punished publicly so that no one dares to do such a thing in the future“, says.
A senior district administration official, Sardar Mushtaq Ahmad, confirmed that 24 locals were missing.
Families in Budley are still clinging to the last words they heard from their dead loved ones, hoping for a miracle.
“My son told me they were being put on the boat. The weather was not goodsaid Taslim Bibi, 48, who is grieving her 20-year-old son, Akash Gulzar.
“His voice gradually faded and he could not continue to speak».
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