Still 20,000 Pakistanis in human traffickers’ safe houses, waiting to be sent to Italy by boat

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Hundreds of migrants on board the boat that sank in Greece last month were neither given life jackets nor food, even though the crew was paid $100 for these items.

It has been revealed by Usman Siddique, a Pakistani survivor of the accident, who recently managed to return to Pakistan.

Usman Siddique was among the 12 Pakistanis who survived the tragedy, and his family sources confirmed that he reached his hometown in village on the outskirts of Gujrat on Friday. Since his return, he has met many people whose loved ones have died in this accident.

Twenty-eight-year-old Usman was a constable with the Gujarat Police, but took a year off and decided to go to Italy with four of his friends, some of whom were in the police themselves. He left Gujrat for Libya in May.

At his residence, Usman told reporters that the crew raised money to supply life jackets before boarding the boat. According to him, there were at least 700 people on board the boat, including about 350 Pakistanis, most of them from Gujrat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin and Azad Kashmir areas.

He claimed that the boat was stuck in the middle of the sea on the way. About 12 hours before the sinking, a helicopter took pictures of the boat and left. He said that on the same day, a cargo ship was also stopping near the boat for more than an hour and the crew provided them water bottles and bread.

Usman Siddique also said, “Around 11 pm, another ship reached the spot and tied our boat with a rope, but as soon as the ship pulled the boat, it started breaking.” Adding, “There was a scream because people drowned. Some people held the rope after falling, so that he survived.”

He added that a tourist ship arrived early in the morning and managed to transport more than 100 people to the shore. He claimed that there are still around 20,000 Pakistanis in the safe houses of human traffickers in Libya, waiting to be sent to Italy by boat.

Three of his friends were also present in these safe houses while another police constable also lost his life in the tragedy. “The smuggler promised to take us to our destination within 10 days of leaving Pakistan, but he never fulfilled the promises despite receiving the money.”

Currently, Usman Siddique has returned home after consulting his family and parents. According to family sources, he was offered legal permission to stay in Greece, but he turned down the offer. Other Pakistani survivors who were still in Greece have accepted a similar offer.

Usman advised the youth to never opt for illegal travel and “always prefer to stay within their available resources and means”. Your parents will never let you starve to death, he said.