The bodies of sixteen victims who died on November 24, during a shipwreck in the English Channel, were repatriated on Sunday December 26, before dawn in Iraqi Kurdistan. Families were waiting for them to organize a funeral. The plane arrived at around 2 a.m. local time at the airport in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region. The victims were transferred to ambulances which left the airport to transport them to their home towns in Kurdistan.
In a terminal, the families waited in emotion for the arrival of the remains. Dozens of people, men, women and children, were present, some hugging each other. Women, all dressed in black, lamented the disappearance of a loved one, another exhibited photos of a young man.
Originally scheduled for Friday, the repatriation has been postponed twice. Saturday before dawn, dozens of relatives have already waited long hours, to finally be told at the last minute that the plane would not come.
Thirty-three people on board
Of the twenty-seven bodies found, twenty-six were identified in France: seventeen men and seven women aged 19 to 46, a 16-year-old teenager and a 7-year-old child. In addition to the sixteen Kurds from Iraq, there is also a Kurd from Iran, three Ethiopians, a Somali, four Afghans and an Egyptian. Only two men had been rescued, an Iraqi Kurd and a Sudanese, according to the French interior ministry.
According to one of the witnesses, thirty-three people were on board when the smugglers counted them. Questions arise about the calls that migrants would have made to the French and English authorities, when their makeshift boat began to sink, according to the testimony of a survivor.
The Manche maritime prefecture had ruled out that the appeal of migrants in difficulty was not dealt with. On the contrary, several testimonies from relatives of the victims and the records of the telephone calls corroborate the fact that they had contacted help. The Utopia 56 association seized the Paris prosecutor’s office on December 20 for manslaughter and failure to provide assistance. Procedures have also been initiated by families of victims in England.