“It was the worst experience of my life,” Hamid said in an Italian gym as he and his wife waited to be processed for COVID-19 quarantine locations after their sailboat, “Passion Dalaware,” came ashore Nov. 10.

When the Taliban took Kabul in August, Zakia was six months pregnant and in her first year of university while her husband, Hamid, was working as an auditor. They decided to flee, and along with five relatives, began a two-month odyssey that took them through Iran and Turkey, the AP reports.

When it was time to cross the Mediterranean, they did so on an expensive sailboat that came ashore this month on a beach in the southern Italian region of Calabria.

They were dehydrated, but relieved to have survived a lesser-known migration route to Europe that is increasingly being used by wealthier Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians and Kurds. Entire families are paying top price for passage from Turkey aboard new or nearly new sailboats that can more easily avoid detection by authorities. Investigators say they are captained by smugglers, often Ukrainians, who may be in cahoots with Turkish mobsters and Italian ’ndrangheta clans on shore.

While aid workers call these “1st class” crossings, there is nothing elite about them. Hamid and Zakia were packed with 100 people below deck for a week as food supplies dwindled. After two days without fresh water, Zakia couldn’t feel the baby moving inside her anymore.

“It was the worst experience of my life,” Hamid said in an Italian gym as he and his wife waited to be processed for COVID-19 quarantine locations after their sailboat, “Passion Dalaware,” came ashore Nov. 10.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse