U.N. says 240 migrants drowned off Libya in 48 hours

By Tom Miles and Marina Depetris | GENEVA At least 240 migrants have drowned off the coast of Libya within the last 48 hours, possibly as an unintended consequence of European efforts to stop people-smugglers and

By Tom Miles and Marina Depetris | GENEVA

At least 240 migrants have drowned off the coast of Libya within the last 48 hours, possibly as an unintended consequence of European efforts to stop people-smugglers and to train Libyan coastguards, the U.N.’s migration agency said on Thursday.

Five rescue ships, coordinated by the Italian coastguard, were within sight of the migrants but, despite attempts to rescue them, most died, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) chief spokesman, Leonard Doyle, said.

“Two rubber dinghies, which is what they are, rubber dinghies, packed with migrants, totalling over 300 we think in all … have succumbed to the waves off Libya in very bad weather,” he said.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he was “deeply saddened by another tragedy”, and many lives could be saved if European countries volunteered to take in more refugees rather than leaving them to make the risky boat trip.

“The Mediterranean is a deadly stretch of sea for refugees and migrants, yet they still see no other option but to risk their lives to cross it,” he said in a statement.

Migrant arrivals in Italy surged to 27,388 in October, more than the two previous Octobers combined, and bringing this year’s total to more than 158,000, IOM’s Italy spokesman, Flavio di Giacomo, said.

Migrants have told the IOM that smugglers say European training of Libyan coastguards means that rescue missions will soon be handed over to Libya and so any rescued migrants will be taken ashore in Libya rather than in Italy, Giacomo said.

That might be causing the rush, despite the bad weather, he said.

According to Doyle, the use of dinghies, especially unsuitable for the long sea crossing in bad weather, was partly due to European navies capturing and destroying many of the fishing boats that smugglers had been using.

“In the absence of those boats and with the migrants determined to leave, and the smugglers interested in making money off them, they have been putting them in completely unsafe rubber dinghies,” he said.

Survivors from one dinghy, whose passengers included about 20 women and six children, all believed to be from West Africa, said they set off from Libya at about 3 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Wednesday, but the boat sank after a few hours.

Twelve bodies were recovered, including three babies, and about 27 survived, di Giacomo said.

Another two women said they had survived the sinking of a second dinghy at about the same time. Theirs was carrying about 130 people, they said.

The IOM said the latest deaths meant 4,220 migrants had died in the Mediterranean so far this year, compared with 3,777 in the whole of 2015.

Separately, Italy’s coastguard said rescuers pulled about 766 people to safety from boats in difficulty in the central Mediterranean on Thursday, and found the dead body of one woman.

(Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Rome; Editing by Louise Ireland and Mark Trevelyan)

Reuters

 

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8 COMMENTS
  • Haile stupid Drue November 3, 2016

    hi assena hasena how many Eritreans where there Meron stifanos did not tell you lie

  • Haile stupid Drue November 3, 2016

    bad news The COI human right is fail so, you,are not going to report propoganda iwas surprise when you say boat sink people drowining becuse before use to say aboat sink with Eritreans but after the human right vaiolation on Eritrea COI fail you are reporting true keep it up agood job

    • Koubrom November 6, 2016

      They are lot of them Meron estifanos,Elsa shyrum, the pedhophile priest mussie zerai and more they made a lot of money ,all of them have some in common they born in and raised and married to Ethiopian I don’t know about the priest catholic can be even after married and claim he is virgin and wanna be priest haha
      I wish we can arrest them one day and extradite them back home so we can hung them for all the youth they drown into the sea.

  • Setit November 3, 2016

    You are a heartless animal! You are using the name of a reformer ans added “stupid”. The fact is that you are the stupid idiot! Rascal!
    Aman, why allow this person who is shamelessly using this penname? How do you think Durue son feel about this? Please put yourself in bis shoe.

    • andom November 6, 2016

      Hopeless higdefite individuals should not have been allowed to use this webdite. No we should allow them to come and try to clean their shit. As dirty as they are, as deplorable as they are, as hopeless as they are we should let them read our comments to see how determined we are and smell their inevitable demise. We know durue will come out stronger and fushul iseyas and his tigrigns speaking esepa aka higdef serakit will rot in containers. Nay mecheeresta xaere mot tinfas tetenfis aleka misti seraki halekaka gudgad kitatu tekereb. Kem isu nay agame zeri kemzelatka eka flut eyu.

  • Z. Hagos November 3, 2016

    Breaking News:
    According to a source in the Ethio-Eritrean borders, middle rank military personnel are defying taking orders and are taking the side of the regulars over the fake salary increases recently announced by the regime. This is a sign of dissatisfaction and may lead to surprises like the one of Wedi Ali’s Forto revolute. In case of any popular uprising against the tyrant, this time, it will not be suppressed by the army. Already many of the army garrisoned in Akeleguzai and Seraye have left and crossed the border into Ethiopia.
    ..
    This is a good news for all Eritrean youth who are forced into the deserts and oceans. Hopefully, it is going be a peaceful revolution that will result in caging all the criminals including the tyrant into containers, protecting them from the anger of the people but safely holding them until the day of judgment in a court of law.

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