At least 1,071 migrants and refugees have died or disappeared this year in the Mediterranean, and nearly two-thirds of all deaths have been recorded along the route of the central Mediterranean linking the coasts of North Africa to Italian territorial waters, said Tuesday the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The last episode of these tragic deaths took place off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, with a wreck in the night of October 6 to 7.
Thirteen bodies were recovered Monday afternoon after the sinking in the previous night of a boat of migrants and refugees near Lampedusa. The victims found are all women, some pregnant.
“Thirteen bodies – all women – have been recovered by the Italian Coast Guard and the Financial Brigade,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.
According to him, the victims are from CAte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The migrants said they lost their brothers, sisters, husbands and friends.
The Italian coastguard was called shortly after midnight to rescue a boat carrying about 50 migrants and sinking. As rescue approached, the boat capsized “due to harsh weather conditions and an overcrowded boat.
“The migrants would have left the Tunisian island of Kerkennah aboard a wooden boat,” Millman said.
According to survivor testimonies collected by IOM staff at their point of landing, their ship was carrying 15 Tunisians as well as migrants from various West African countries.
Nearly 19,000 migrants dead or missing in the Mediterranean since 2014
The 22 rescued persons were transported to the port of Lampedusa, off Sicily, including a woman in critical condition who was transferred by helicopter to the Palermo Hospital.
On Tuesday morning, 17 migrants and refugees were still missing, including women and at least two children.
Among the missing are nationals of CAte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry and four Tunisian nationals, including three men and a 17-year-old boy.
The IOM Missing Migrants Project reported that as of 6 October, 688 migrants or refugees have perished along the Central Mediterranean route linking the coasts of Africa to Italian territorial waters, either almost two-thirds of the total number of deaths recorded so far in 2019 in the Mediterranean. Some 66 other casualties have been reported along the eastern Mediterranean linking the Turkish and Syrian coasts to Greece and Cyprus. IOM reported an additional 317 deaths in waters between North Africa and Spain.
A total of 18,990 migrants and refugees have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean as they tried to reach Europe since 2014.
According to the UN Agency for Migration (IOM), 15,750 deaths have been recorded since 1 January 2014 on this single path of the central Mediterranean, about ten times the total losses on the eastern corridor of the Mediterranean connecting the Middle East to Greece or on the western route connecting North Africa to Spain.
In addition, 72,263 migrants entered Europe by sea since 1 January, 14% less than the 84,345 people who landed in the same period last year. Arrivals in Greece and Spain were 39,155 and 17,405 respectively. The number of arrivals in Italy was 7.892 against 21.119 in the same period in 2018.
Source: UN News Service