Hundreds of migrants, including Nigerians, crossing to Italy and Spain are feared dead in the Mediterranean Sea, the International Organisation for Migration has said. The boats carrying the migrants departed from the coastal towns of Azzawiyah and Al Khums in Libya, according to spokesperson of the IOM Christine Petré.
“Most of the survivors hail from African countries, including Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. The Libyan Cost Guard reported that eight were from Bangladesh while two were from Pakistan,” Petré said. The UN migration agency said its officials were present at the disembarkation point in Tripoli and provided the survivors with food and water.
Speaking on the development on Wednesday, Othman Belbeisi, Chief of IOM Libya Mission, said about 200 migrants or refugees had died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea with up to 100 unaccounted for since Saturday. “It’s very distressing that during the first 10 days of 2018 we have seen close to 800 migrants rescued or intercepted off the Libyan coast, with more lives lost at sea,” Belbeisi.
“More has to be done to reduce irregular unsafe movements of people along the Central Mediterranean route.” According to him, the tragedy came at a time when Mediterranean migrants’ death dropped sharply as IOM recorded only 26 on the Mediterranean Sea lanes in December 2017.
Belbeisi said while January 2017 had witnessed some 254 deaths, this week’s reports suggest that the start of 2018 may be even deadlier. IOM reported on Tuesday that 81 Mediterranean Sea deaths of migrants or refugees were recorded in the first eight days of the year with five in Western Mediterranean waters off Spain and Morocco and the rest between Italy and Libya.