Sixty refugees drown while fleeing Syria violence
Refugees were already in the hands of human smugglers.
A disaster has claimed the lives of 60 Syrian refugees just off the coast of Turkey. A fishing vessel, illegally transporting some 100 people, including women and children, struck rocks and sank just off the Turkish coast near Izmir. Most of the passengers were trapped below decks and drowned.
Divers recover the lifeless body of a drowned girl.
Nearly all of the survivors were those on deck at the time of the sinking. It is believed they were able to jump away from the vessel and swim ashore while many women and children below decks had little chance to escape.
The smugglers responsible for transporting the refugees survived and have been arrested.
Images of the rescue show divers removing the bodies of lifeless children and women from the sea, then transporting them in body bags to shore.
Unbeknownst to the passengers, had the vessel completed its journey, the people would have been delivered to human smugglers who were promising to transport the people to England. Of course, such transport is never free and these people would have simply become part of a vast underground human trafficking network that courses through Europe, capitalizing on refugees from troubled regions.
Some refugees are aware of the conditions in the Turkish camps which have been set up by the UN and other aid agencies to provide temporary shelter for refugees, however those conditions are difficult because insufficient humanitarian aid is available to go around. In an effort to avoid that trouble, some refugees have turned to smugglers without realizing the danger they're getting into.
Last month, the UN estimated that about 100,000 people fled the country.
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No matter what route of escape the refugees choose, there is always grave danger. Those making their way across the border to camps must avoid Syrian aircraft and militias that seek to punish those trying to flee. And for the ones that escape by ship, there's always the threat of human traffickers enslaving them or members of their family to pay for the service.
There is just no easy path to safety for the Syrian people as conditions in that country steadily worsen.
READ MORE: World inaction causes disaster in Syria
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Refugees, Syria, drowning, Izmir, Turkey
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