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50 migrants found dead in a ship near Libya

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Rome: The bodies of at least 50 migrants have been found in the hold of a craft off the Libyan coast, the Italian coast guard said on Wednesday. The boat was sailing with 439 people on board some 50 km north of the Libyan coast, and received assistance in the early afternoon from Swedish ship Poseidon patrolling the Mediterranean as part of the European Union (EU) rescue mission Triton, a coast guard spokesman told Xinhua.

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About 50 bodies were found in the hold of the boat, the official added. It was the second major incident of the kind in 10 days. On August 15, the Italian navy had rescued some 312 migrants crammed in a boat off the Libyan coast, and 49 people had been found dead in the hold, apparently killed by the lack of air and fuel fumes.

Survivors of this incident gave their testimony to Italian prosecutors, helping authorities to identify and arrest eight alleged human smugglers, namely four Libyans, three Moroccans, and one Syrian national, who are currently in jail in Catania. Overall, the naval rescue forces coordinated by the Italian coast guard received 10 emergency calls since Wednesday morning, and all of them coming from migrant craft in difficulty in the waters north of Libya.

A coffin, containing the body of an unidentified migrant, is carried off the Irish Navy ship LE Niamh in the Sicilian harbour of Messina, Italy July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello
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Italy’s ship Fiorillo saved 112 people aboard an inflatable, and one migrant on board was found dead, the coast guard said. Another 225 people on an inflatable were rescued by a merchant vessel involved in the operations. At least three migrant craft carrying between 500 and 600 people each received assistance from an Irish naval ship, and vessels from Doctors Without Borders and Migrant Offshore Aid Station humanitarian organisations. Rescue operations were still underway until Wednesday afternoon, the coast guard added.

(IANS)

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With The End Of Sea Rescue Operations, Migrants Death Will Increase: U.N.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 2,100 people have died making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Europe this year.

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Refugees, Migrants
Lifejackets piled on this Greek beach have come to stand for the rigors and danger that migrants face trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. VOA

Leading U.N. humanitarian agencies warn migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea will multiply with the end of sea and rescue operations by Doctors Without Borders and its partner SOS Mediterranee.

The two international charities were pressured by the European Union to put their ship, the Aquarius into dry dock and abandon their life-saving rescue mission.

The Aquarius has been docked in Marseille, France, since early October after Panama revoked its registration at the behest of the right-wing, anti-immigration Italian government.

Refugees, Migrants
In this Aug. 27, 1994 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard crew from the cutter Staten Island are hindered by rough seas in the Florida Straits as they attempt to rescue Cuban refugees. VOA

Italy claims these operations encourage migrants to make the perilous sea journey. It says ending these activities will save lives, a claim hotly disputed by U.N. officials.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman, Shabia Mantoo, says search-and-rescue capacity needs to be reinforced rather than diminished.

“So, we do continue to call strongly for increasing search-and-rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean and for leaving space for NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to contribute in a coordinated manner to these efforts,” said Mantoo. “Saving lives is our primary concern.”

Since it began operations in February 2016, the Aquarius has helped nearly 30,000 refugees and migrants in distress find a safe haven. U.N. Human Rights Spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, tells VOA she is deeply concerned by recent developments.

Refugees, Migrants
Representational Image of Refugees. Wikimedia Commons.

“The provision of support and assistance to migrants must not be criminalized,” said Shamdasani. “The decrease of search-and-rescue by humanitarian organizations and States failure to provide adequate search-and-rescue capacity is resulting in an increase of migrants, an increase of vulnerability of migrants at sea.”

Also Read: Refugees’ Entitled To Claim The Right To Asylum in The U.S: U.N.

Shamdasani says the death rate in the Central Mediterranean this year is much higher than in previous years. She says States must protect the lives and safety of migrants and ensure those who are at risk are rescued and offered immediate assistance.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 2,100 people have died making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Europe this year. This is nearly two-thirds of the more than 3,300 deaths recorded globally in 2018. (VOA)