The continuing crisis of migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, often in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, has resulted in more than 1,000 deaths at sea in 2018 so far, according to the latest figures. Most recently, more than 200 people drowned over a three-day period.
With Italy taking a tough stand on allowing rescued migrants to disembark, and greater international support to Libya to stem the people smuggling trade at the source, migrants rescued at sea are increasingly taking back to Libya, from where they set out.
The Libyan coastguard has returned about 10,000 people to shore this year. In one day, 276 refugees and migrants were disembarked in Tripoli, including 16 survivors of a boat that had been carrying 130 people, of whom 114 were still missing at sea. On the following day, the Libyan coastguard reported a further seven deaths and a further 123 migrants rescued.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) commented that people smugglers were exploiting the desperation of migrants to leave before any further European crackdown on Mediterranean crossings.
Press Release: itfseafarers.org