Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean surpass 1,000 in first half of 2018

More than 1,000 migrants have reportedly died while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in the first half of 2018. Over 200 migrants drowned in the first three days of July, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

On 1 July, the Libyan coastguard reported 100 people missing after a small rubber boat packed with migrants capsized off the coast of Tripoli. IOM reports that only 41 people survived thanks to rescue efforts.

Another shipwreck occurred on 28 June killing 103 people, including three babies, due to “smugglers taking migrants to sea in completely unsafe vessels,” a statement by IOM explained.

So far this year, over 10,000 migrants have been returned to shore after being rescued from small vessels by the Libyan coastguard.

According to the IOM report close to 1,000 migrants were returned to Libyan shores by the Libyan coastguard from Friday to Sunday.  IOM provided those rescued with direct assistance, including food and water, health assistance and they were then transferred by the Libyan authorities to the detention centres where IOM continued to provide humanitarian assistance.

IOM’s Libya Chief of Mission, Othman Belbeisi, said “there is an alarming increase in deaths at sea off Libya coast. Smugglers are exploiting the desperation of migrants to leave before there are further crackdowns on Mediterranean crossings by Europe.”

“Migrants returned by the coastguard should not automatically be transferred to detention and we are deeply concerned that the detention centres will yet again be overcrowded and that living conditions will deteriorate with the recent influx of migrants,” added Belbeisi.

In their quest for economic opportunities, many Africans are on the move towards Europe, using dangerous irregular routes to reach the Mediterranean Sea through several North African countries.

TMP – 27/07/2018

Photo source: http://www.aa.com.tr/