"Abandoned" Ship Near Italy Found Crammed With Human Trafficking Victims

Smugglers abandon hundreds of migrants in rough seas.

Ghost Ship

An abandoned Sierra Leone-flagged ship left drifting with 450 migrants on board reached Italy's southern coast on Friday.

After several hours of struggling, rescue teams managed to tow Ezadeen safely toward the southern Calabrian region, according to Italian Coast Guard Commander Filippo Marini.

Hundreds of migrants including women and young children, believed to be Syrian, were found crammed inside the decaying hold of the cargo ship, which apparently set sail from Turkey.

They had run out of food, drink and fuel after drifting in the Mediterranean Sea for five days.

A female passenger informed Italian authorities over the ship's radio of their plight.

"We are alone, there is no one, help us!" Marini quoted her as saying.

Ghost Ship

Although Ezadeen’s rescue has been met with praise since it helped save so many lives, it’s distressing to note that it wasn’t the first vessel left at the mercy of killer waves of the sea this week.

It was, in fact, secured less than 48 hours after another vessel Blue Sky M was rescued with almost a thousand migrants onboard.

These so-called “ghost ships” are being used by human traffickers to exploit desperate refugees who pay between $4,000 and $8,000, hoping for a better future in Europe.

"They promised me $15,000 and the possibility of sending my entire family over," a Syrian refugee Sarkas Rani was quoted as saying by La Repubblica.

More than 170,000 migrants were reportedly intercepted or needed rescue by Italian navy, coast guard and air force patrols last year.

Ghost Ship

"Smugglers are finding new routes to Europe and are employing new methods in order to exploit desperate people," said Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Union Commissioner for Migration. "These events underscore the need for decisive and coordinated EU-wide action."

While the EU was preparing a new migration plan to fight refugee trafficking, according to Avramopoulos, difficulties such as the increasing number of numbers and the cost of sea patrols have hampered any progress in this regard.

Ghost Ship

For now, Cost Guard Commander Marini said that the rescued migrants are being interviewed to find out if the smugglers have mingled among them since it was impossible to abandon the ship in the middle of the Mediterranean given the rough weather.

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