Government Following Up Ship Tragedy, says Premier

RAMALLAH, October 14, 2013 (WAFA) – The Palestinian government is following up very closely developments following the sinking of a ship carrying Palestinian refugees off the Libyan cost on Sunday, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Monday.

A statement by the Government Media Center said Hamdallah expressed sorrow at the ship tragedy that left scores of Palestinians running away from the Syrian war dead when their ship carrying them to safety in Europe sank in the Mediterranean Sea.

He said the government was following up on this matter and the situation of the survivors, urging the United Nations and the international community to provide help and protection to the Palestinian refugees caught in the middle of the Syrian conflict.

President Mahmoud Abbas had also instructed the Foreign Ministry on Sunday to follow up on the situation of the ship survivors.

A Foreign Ministry statement said that it was in touch with officials in Malta, Libya, Italy and Egypt, who helped in the rescue operation, seeking information about the missing and the survivors.

It said that information from the Palestine Embassy in Malta said that the Maltese navy rescued 147 people, including 40 Palestinian refugees running away from Syria, in addition to 57 rescued by the Italian navy.

The ship had 375 people on board, most of them Palestinian refugees. It was shot at outside the Libyan cost, damaging the engine and causing it to sink off the Maltese shores. Most of the dead and missing are believed to be children.