11 migrants dead, 200 missing in Mediterranean sinkings
Eleven migrants have died and nearly 200 are missing after two boats sank off the coast of Libya, UN agencies said on Monday citing survivors, in the latest such tragedy.
The first involved an inflatable craft which left Libya early Friday with 132 people on board, only to start deflating a few hours later, before overturning.
Some 50 survivors were picked up by a Danish container ship, the Alexander Maersk, which was alerted to divert by Italian coastguards and dropped them off yesterday in Pozzallo, southern Sicily.
Representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were able to meet them on Monday to hear their accounts. Survivors told them that women and children were among those missing.
At the same time, the bodies of 10 women and one child were found today on a beach in Zawiya, 50 kilometres west of Tripoli, according to an official for the Libyan Red Crescent.
Then on Sunday seven migrants - a woman and six men - were rescued by Libyan fishermen and coastguards off the coast of the Libyan capital.
An IOM spokesman who met them said they had set out on a boat with at least 120 people on board, including about 30 women and nine children.
In all more than 6,000 migrants were rescued on Friday and Saturday in international waters off the coast of Libya and brought to Italy, while several hundred were rescued in Libyan waters and taken back to Libya.
Italian Navy and coast guard ships in the Mediterranean Sea, with the aid of humanitarian organizations, rescued 560 migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday. Most of those rescued came from African countries and Syria, Reuters reported.
The number of people leaving Libya in the hope of starting a new life in Europe is up nearly 50 percent this year compared with the opening
months of 2016.
It is the latest rescuein the migrant crisis that continues to spark European Union debate over how to handle the flood of people. Italy is at the center of the crisis, having received almost half of the 363,000 migrants to Europe last year. Boat migrant arrivals are up 30 percent in Italy this year from 2016; over the course of a single weekend in April, about 7,000 migrants were reportedly rescued from
With most departures coming in the warm summer months, the trend points to around 250,000 people arriving over the course of 2017. Some 500,000 migrants were registered in Italy in the three years spanning 2014-16.