Within the last 48 hours, at least 240 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan coast. The high numbers could be an unintended consequence of efforts to put an end to the activity of people smugglers. Also, European authorities have tried to train Libyan coastguards to respond to such emergencies on their own. But their efforts were not enough. As a consequence, the recent death toll was a very high number. Migrants from the north of Africa continue to try to make their way to Europe in boats that are overcrowded and ill-suited for the passage. Despite the danger, they risk their lives trying to cross over to the European continent.
Migrants Choose Risky Boat Trips to Get to Europe
According to the UN’s migration agency two boats that had over 300 people on board could not handle the rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Five rescue ships, under the coordination of the Italian coastguard could see the boats. They attempted to rescue the migrants in the boats. But, despite their efforts, most of them drowned.
Leonard Doyle is the spokesman for the International Organization for Migration. He spoke about the human tragedy that recently took place.
“Two rubber dinghies, which is what they are, rubber dinghies, packed with migrants, totalling over 300 we think in all … have succumbed to the waves off Libya in very bad weather,”
said Leonard Doyle.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he was “deeply saddened by another tragedy. He added that European countries could save many lives if they offered to take in a higher number of refugees. With no other alternative to safely getting to Europe, migrants choose the risky boat trip over dangerous waters.
“The Mediterranean is a deadly stretch of sea for refugees and migrants, yet they still see no other option but to risk their lives to cross it,”
said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
Efforts to Put an End to People Smuggling Have Adverse Effect
The number of migrants that have arrived in Italy went up to 27,388 this October. This is more than the two previous months of October put together. It brings the total for the year to over 158,000 so far.
Stories told by the migrants could point in the right direction regarding the reason for such a rush to get to the European continent. It appears that people smugglers have circulated stories about how rescue missions will be handled by Libya from now on. European authorities are providing training to Libyan coastguards so they can help with situations such as this one. However, that means that the Libyn coastguards will take the rescued migrants ashore in Libya and not in Italy. That may have led migrants rushing to get a place on a boat going to Europe. Despite the bad weather that made for difficult sailing.
Another contributing factor was that the people smugglers used rubber dinghies that were unsuitable for a long sea crossing, especially in bad weather.
“With the migrants determined to leave, and the smugglers interested in making money off them, they have been putting them in completely unsafe rubber dinghies,”
said Leonard Doyle.
Image source: here.