Somalia and Eritrea offered condolences Saturday for the hundreds of
their citizens feared drowned in the tragic sinking of a boat crammed
with asylum-seekers off the Italian coast.
Saturday, October 05, 2013
So far, 111 African asylum-seekers have been confirmed dead but scores more are missing.
Many of the victims are believed to be from Somalia -- riven by over
two decades of war, as well as recent famine and drought -- as well as
from Eritrea, where thousands flee a repressive government and seek jobs
Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon thanked Italy's coastguard,
saying there was "no doubt their swift response helped prevent further
loss of lives".
"I would like to extend my sincere condolences to those who lost
loved ones and friends in this tragic accident," Shirdon said in a
"As a government we must continue to build on the achievements
already made to make Somalia a secure, stable and attractive place to
live, so that those young people who are fleeing their country will stay
and take part in rebuilding their country."
Eritrea's state-run media makes no mention of the tragedy, but
Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed, in a speech to a United Nations
meeting on migration in New York, offered his "condolences to the
families of the victims" of the "tragic and sad incident".
The United Nations refugee agency estimates as many as 3,000
Eritreans flood into Sudan and Ethiopia every month from Eritrea, a
country of some five million people and about the size of England.
Many are running from open-ended military conscription imposed by the autocratic and isolated government of the Red Sea state.
Impoverished Somalia spiralled into repeated rounds of bloody civil
war beginning in 1991, allowing piracy, militia armies and extremist
rebels to flourish.
Last year an internationally-backed government took power in
Mogadishu, defended by a 17,700-strong African Union force which is
battling Al-Qaeda linked Islamist insurgents, but its control beyond the
capital remains fragile at best.
More than a million Somalis are refugees in neighbouring nations.
Many settle in refugee camps in neighbouring nations, but others risk the dangerous road onwards towards Europe.