In January, more than ten times as many refugees drowned in the Mediterranean as in December. Now a new tragedy happens: More than 90 people are missing. Unlike most refugees and migrants, they did not come from Africa.
Another refugee tragedy off the coast of Libya: A boat with more than 90 people capsized there on Friday morning, according to the Organization for Migration (IOM). She fears that most of the refugees and migrants on board were killed, as IOM spokeswoman Olivia Headon from the Tunisian capital Tunis reported.
According to initial reports, there are only three survivors: two had swum ashore, another had been rescued by fishermen. Ten bodies had been washed ashore on the coast. The sea was calm, a weather-related accident therefore unlikely, said Headon. The boat was very full, according to the survivors. It could be that it was out of balance.
No survivors found after use
According to the survivors, mainly people from Pakistan were on board. Two of the survivors were Pakistanis, as were eight of the dead, Headon reported. In a search and rescue operation in front of the port city of Zuwara in northwestern Libya, no further survivors were initially found, according to the IOM.
The EU will continue the rescue of refugees in distress and the fight against tugs, said EU spokeswoman Catherine Ray in Brussels in a first reaction. “Every lost human life is one too many.”
Up to 37 people died at the weekend
Since the early summer of 2015, the EU operation “Sophia” is running off the coast of Libya. According to the inspector of the German Navy, more than 45,000 people have already been brought to safety, including 22,000 by German soldiers. More than 117 alleged smugglers have been arrested for clues from “Sophia” units and more than 460 boats have been destroyed, it said in late 2017.
Already last weekend, probably up to 37 people were killed when their boat hit leak before Zuwara. According to the IOM, about 135 people were on board. About 100 were saved. Two bodies had been recovered, and a rescued woman had died on the way to the hospital. The survivors arrived on Thursday on the Italian Mediterranean island of Sicily.
Number of Pakistanis on Mediterranean route increased
In January, according to IOM data, at least 246 refugees and migrants died fleeing across the Mediterranean, compared to 254 in January last year. In total, more than 3,000 refugees have perished in the Mediterranean since 2014 every year.
The number of Pakistanis has grown rapidly on this refugee route this year. Why, Headon could not say. According to their statements, 240 Pakistanis arrived in Italy earlier this year, compared to just nine in January 2017. After migrants from Eritrea and Tunisia they constituted the largest group in January. In total, more than 6600 refugees arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean in January, about 600 more than in the same period last year.