Over 1,000 migrants rescued at sea in just three days
Immigration | More than 250 migrants have died on the Mediterranean Sea this year
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/24/17, 10:33 am
Aid groups have rescued more than 1,000 migrants traveling across the Mediterranean Sea since Wednesday.
The Italian coast guard and SOS Mediterranee aid group on Wednesday rescued about 730 migrants off the Libyan coast. The rescue teams picked up the migrants, the majority of them from sub-Saharan Africa, during seven different operations.
Proactiva Open Arms, another nonprofit that carries out rescue missions at sea, found another 350 migrants on Thursday about 25 miles from the Libyan coast. The rescue teams are taking the migrants to a port in Sicily today, said Laura Lanuza, the group’s spokeswoman.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) last year recorded more than 7,000 deaths in the Mediterranean, the highest annual figure the organization has recorded. But despite the danger, many continue to embark on the treacherous journey. This year, more than 13,000 migrants have entered Europe by sea, IOM said. At least 272 people have died along the way .
The Red Crescent, a partnership with the Red Cross, said 13 migrants suffocated Monday inside a shipping container headed for Europe. The group said the migrants were locked in the container for several days as it traveled from central Libya to the coastal town of Khoms, where it was to be taken across the Mediterranean. Instead, traffickers unloaded the human cargo in Khoms on Tuesday. Fifty-six people, including a 5-year-old girl, survived.
In a separate case, the Libyan Red Crescent on Tuesday said the bodies of at least 74 migrants drifted ashore in western Libya. The aid group said rescue workers spent six hours recovering the dead, and they suspect more bodies are still in the water. Aid workers found the torn rubber boat the migrants most likely used nearby. IOM said traffickers had taken the engine off the boat and left the migrants to drift at sea.
Lanuza called on the international community to work toward creating an institution that ensures the safety of the people traveling by sea. The burden currently lies with nonprofits and the coast guards, she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.