Nearly 9,000 migrants rescued in one weekend, as total deaths reach 900 in 2017

News Hour:

Over the three days between Friday 14 to Sunday 16 April, a total of 8,360 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean by the Italian Coast Guard, the many Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) rescue ships, Frontex, EunavforMEd and commercial ships.

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The migrants were travelling on 55 rubber dinghies, each carrying between 110 and 150 people, and three big wooden boats, carrying 200, 250 and 500 people respectively. Those rescued were brought to various locations in Italy including: Catania, Messina, Augusta, Pozzallo, Palermo, Porto Empedocle, Lampedusa (Sicily), Reggio Calabria, Vibo Valentia (Calabria) and Cagliari (Sardinia).

A total of approximately 32,800 migrants have been brought to land since the beginning of 2017. The total number of arrivals is predicted to reach about 36,000 in the next two days.

So far this year, at least 900 migrants have died or have gone missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.

Improving weather appears to have motivated smugglers to put as many migrants to sea as possible. The overwhelming majority of the rescues occurred off Libya’s coastline, as migrants are sent to sea in overcrowded dinghies, easily overwhelmed by waves.

Almost 90 per-cent of the 900 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean have been recorded on the Libya-to-Italy route. In one incident on 13 April, 23 people were rescued and 97 are estimated to have gone missing (77 men, 15 women, and 5 children from Africa) off the coast of Gargaresh, near Tripoli, Libya. In another incident off the coast of Qarabulli, Libya, on the night of 14 April, 101 migrants were rescued, and 5 migrants died.

Thirteen other bodies were recovered by NGO rescue operations, including the ships of MOAS, Sea Eye, and Jugend Rettet. Between 1 January and 18 April last year, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project (MMP) recorded 1,263 migrant deaths and disappearances in the Mediterranean. The higher number of deaths at this point in 2016 is largely due to deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route, in which 376 deaths were recorded between January and 18 April 2016, compared to only 14 so far this year.

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