More than 1,000 migrants died in Mediterranean this year, says IOM

3 July 2018 (Last Updated July 3rd, 2018 12:32)

More than 1,000 people have died sailing through the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe so far this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said.

More than 1,000 migrants died in Mediterranean this year, says IOM
Rescued migrants being tended to by IOM staff in Tripoli. Credit: IOM.

More than 1,000 people have died sailing through the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe so far this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said.

More than 200 people have drowned in the last few days during their attempts to reach Europe as a result of travelling on-board unsafe vessels provided by smugglers.

Three babies were among the 103 victims who lost their lives in a shipwreck on Friday 28 June.

In addition, a small rubber boat crowded with migrants capsized offshore Al Khums, east of Tripoli, on Sunday 1 July, leaving only roughly 41 survivors.

"Migrants returned by the coastguard should not automatically be transferred to detention and we are deeply concerned that the detention centres will yet again be overcrowded."

The Libyan Coast Guard returned nearly 1,000 migrants to shore from Friday to Sunday after intercepting small crafts making their way towards the open sea.

IOM Libya Mission chief Othman Belbeisi said: “There is an alarming increase in deaths at sea off Libya Coast.

“Smugglers are exploiting the desperation of migrants to leave before there are further crackdowns on Mediterranean crossings by Europe.

“Migrants returned by the coastguard should not automatically be transferred to detention and we are deeply concerned that the detention centres will yet again be overcrowded, and that living conditions will deteriorate with the recent influx of migrants.”

The issue of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean reached its peak in 2015.

More than 50,000 people have been rescued by merchant ships since then, with many more rescued by military vessels and boats operated by humanitarian NGOs.

IOM has also deployed its staff to provide support and first aid to the 41 migrants who survived the accident off the shore of Al Khums.

The Libyan Coast Guard has returned around 10,000 people to shore from small vessels so far this year.