ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Four members of a Kurdish family drowned on Thursday in the Aegean sea in a failed attempt to cross over to Greece and seek refuge in Europe.
Hunar Raad with his family of six, with the aid of traffickers, began their journey at sea at 4:30 a.m. in Turkey’s Aydin Province.
The family, like many others looking to make the perilous journey are told, was informed they would be traveling safely on a large, sophisticated boat. However, when they arrived, the craft was old, made of plastic and not strong enough for the load it would carry.
“I insisted on not getting into the boat, but one of them [traffickers] pointed a gun at me and forced us to get in,” Raad, speaking in a Turkmen dialect, told Anadolu Agency, adding “we then paid USD 3000 per person to take the ride.”
Individuals, at times, regret using smugglers once they see the condition of the crafts used to cross the sea, dreading the worst as reports of sinking migrant ships are not uncommon.
Half an hour later, however, Raad’s worst fear materialized.
As the man’s brother, Shamal Raad, told Kurdistan 24, the boat sank and Shaima Aziz, Raad’s wife, and their three daughters, Dalal, Farah, and Nagham drowned. Only Raad and his son, Mohammed, survived.
Raad did not specify how many smugglers were involved nor whether others were traveling with his family.
The family is from the city of Tuz Khurmatu in the Kirkuk Province. After the events of Oct. 16 and the ousting of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces by Iraqi security forces and Shia militias, they were displaced to the Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani Province.
“We were busy dealing with my mother’s recent kidney failure when we heard the news,” Shamal Raad explained to Kurdistan 24 from his current home in the city of Sulaimani.
For the Raad family, the nightmare is not yet over.
“Right now, unfortunately, we cannot even get the bodies of our deceased loved ones back,” he lamented, having to wait for the weekend to pass.
Editing by Nadia Riva