How Did 243 People Vanish Without a Trace Last Year?

It's unclear whether the refugees even made it on board the boat
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2015 1:08 PM CDT
How Did 243 People Vanish Without a Trace Last Year?
In this picture taken on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, shipwreck survivor Mesfin, from Eritrea, is overcome with emotion as he attends a commemoration ceremony off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, for the more than 300 victims of a migrant shipwreck which took place on Oct. 3, 2013 in the Strait of...   (AP Photo/Mauro Buccarello)

When a rickety fishing boat smuggling more than 500 passengers across the Mediterranean capsized on Oct. 3, 2015, the world took notice. More than 350 people, many refugees from Eritrea, drowned, and European leaders promised action, reports the New York Times. But when 243 passengers, again largely refugees from Eritrea, were supposed to be aboard an Italy-bound boat and disappeared without a trace less than a year later, on June 28, 2014, the press, and the world, turned a blind eye, reports Eric Reidy on Medium. Reidy tries to follow the story of one Eritrean woman named Segen who was supposed to be on the "ghost boat," which was to depart from Libya.

She survived the perilous journey across the country with her baby Abigail in her arms; the last time her husband spoke with her was the day she was supposed to board the boat—if the refugees ever boarded it. Reidy notes that "?experts say there would almost certainly be evidence" of a maritime disaster so large, and there are no records of such a boat arriving in Europe, sinking, or being aided. One activist heard word that the 243 were potentially being held in a Tunisian jail; "her findings were inconclusive." Says Segen's husband, who stayed in neighboring Sudan with their now 4-year-old girl Shalom: "If you remember Charlie Hebdo in Paris ... The world stopped for 14 people, but white people, Europeans," he says. "But in our case, nothing…. Because we are black? I don’t know why. It’s really hard. What can I say? We are human." Read Reidy's full account here. (More Syria stories.)

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