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More than a hundred bodies still stuck in refugee shipwreck off Italian coast

February 11, 2014 at 11:41 am

After more than ten days, dozens of the bodies of the Palestinian and Syrian refugees who drowned when their boat sank early last week remain in the wreckage off the Italian coast, Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The organisation has contacted relatives who claim that at least a hundred bodies are still unaccounted for. “The Italian authorities failed to pull them out,” said a statement from Euro-Mid, “claiming that their budget of $30 million is insufficient.”

Euro-Mid accused Italy of violating international human rights law, saying that this is completely inconsistent with international standards and human rights principles. “It demonstrates clearly the failure of the Italian authorities to deal with refugees in a humane way.”

The Italians are also accused of refusing to take DNA samples for identification purposes. This, said Euro-Mid, is a form of discrimination, as is the way that the bodies which were recovered have been buried.

The refugees who survived the sinking were prevented from taking part in the burial of the victims on Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa. Relatives were not able to perform religious rituals for the burials of their loved ones which, alleged Euro-Mid, is another violation of a basic human right.