Shahida Raza: Former Pakistani hockey player dies in boat crash with migrants in Italy
A former member of the Pakistan women’s ice hockey team was among dozens of deaths in a shipwreck involving a migrant boat in southern Italy over the weekend, officials in Islamabad said.
Shahida Raza, 27, has represented Pakistan in several international games, according to the Pakistan Ice Hockey Federation.
Seeking a better future for her disabled son, Ms. Raza hired smugglers to smuggle her out of the country.
According to her friend and former teammate Summaya Kainat, Raza left her home on the outskirts of Quetta, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, four months ago and traveled to neighboring Iran and then Turkey, with the goal of eventually reaching Italy or Australia and find refuge there.
Ms. Raza was a member of the Shia Kainat added that the sect, often targeted by Islamist militants, chose asylum because they believed it was easier to obtain refugee status after entering these countries illegally than to obtain a regular visa.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad said there were 20 Pakistanis there. who transported migrants from Turkey to Italy.
Of these, at least four died in a shipwreck, the ministry added.
Every year, several thousand impoverished Pakistanis take dangerous land and sea routes to reach Europe in the hope of a better life.
They pay millions to traffickers but risk their lives to make the journey.
Pakistani officials have said they are planning a new crackdown on smugglers in Punjab province following the boat tragedy.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the city of Crotone on Thursday, where dozens of dead migrant bodies were laid out in a sports hall.
Mr. Mattarella prayed for several minutes in front of the wooden coffins.
He was greeted with applause by relatives, locals and spectators in the city of Calabria in southern Italy.
Some called for “justice”.
In Italy, there is a fierce debate about whether the authorities made mistakes during the search and rescue efforts on Sunday evening.
At least 67 people died when their boat crashed and sank off the coast early Sunday morning.
More than a dozen children were among the dead.
The search for other bodies continues.
Rescued about 80 people.