Friday, September 4, 2009

Eight starve to death on vessel carrying illegal immigrants to UAE

Anealla Safdar

Last Updated: August 05. 2009 12:14AM UAE / August 4. 2009 8:14PM GMT Seven Pakistani men are believed to have starved to death after the boat that was attempting to smuggle them into Dubai broke down in the Arabian Gulf.

The vessel, which began its journey in Iran, had been stranded at sea for 10 days, according to the four survivors. Its Iranian captain also died; all eight bodies were disposed of in the water.

Khurshid Junejo, the Pakistani ambassador to the UAE, said the deaths were proof that further efforts should be taken to stop illegal immigration at the source.

One of the four survivors, identified as Rehmatullah, told the GEO news channel in Pakistan that the men left home last month after paying an agent in their home country to help them travel to Dubai.

Fishermen rescued the survivors, who returned to the Punjab province in Pakistan, where they told authorities of their experience.

“The four survivors told us that eight of the 12 died because of starvation and their bodies were thrown out to sea,” Hassan Iqbal, the top local administration official, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

“This is a case of human trafficking,” he added.

Mr Junejo said the embassy had evidence of agents illegally making vast sums of money in Pakistan by charging immigrants about 10,000 Pakistani rupees (Dh450) each, promising them jobs in the Gulf region.He said the practice could be prevented only by stricter enforcement in Pakistan. “When I was in Pakistan, I spoke with the government and told them that this must be discouraged,” he said. “It is illegal of course, but we must stop it. It can be controlled through the police and through the government.”

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