700 migrants feared dead following another sinking in the Mediterranean

700 migrants feared dead following another sinking in the Mediterranean

As many as 700 migrants are feared to have drowned, following the capsizing of a boat they were on in the Mediterranean Sea.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Italy’s coastguard have said only 28 people had survived the boat’s sinking on Saturday.

The 20 metre long boat was believed to be carrying up to 700 migrants from Libya when it capsized just off the Libyan coast.

If the toll is confirmed, it would be the largest and most fatal accident involving migrants in a crossing to Europe. Another 400 people drowned in the same waters last week. These incidents bringing the number of Mediterranean drowning’s this year alone to more than 1,500, more than 50 times greater than at the same time last year.

“How can it be that we daily are witnessing a tragedy,” said Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Renzi has called for an emergency European summit this week, to deal with the deepening migrant crisis off its Southern coast. He said concerted European Union action must become a priority following this incident.

Divisions between the EU states arose last year, after Italy stopped its search and rescue operations, after plucking more than 100,000 people from the sea.

A much smaller operation has since been implemented by the EU, run by its border control agency Frontex, which operates with a third of the budget and fraction of the manpower used by the Italian navy.

Human traffickers are taking advantage of the political crisis in Libya, using it as a point to launch boats carrying migrants wishing to flee violence or economic hardship in Africa and the Middle East.

“What is happening now is of epic proportions. If Europe, if the global community continues to turn a blind eye… we will all be judged in the same way that history has judged Europe when it turned a blind eye to the genocide of this century and last century.

“They are literally trying to find people alive among the dead floating in the water,” said Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta.

The survivors are still aboard an Italian rescue ship but are expected to be brought to Sicily on Monday. Weather conditions are fair and the water not too cold, meaning that more survivors could yet be found.

A meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg today has now added the issue to its agenda.

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Amy Whittaker
Amy Whittaker 1402 posts

Amy joined the NRN team in August 2011, before graduating from a B of Arts (Communication-Journalism)/B of Sports Studies from Charles Sturt University in December 2011.

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