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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Méditerranée. Plus de 200 migrants disparus en mer

by Damien Roustel

Over 200 Migrants Lost in the Mediterranean Sea

Translated Tuesday 1 August 2017, by Arwen Dewey

Two shipwrecks were reported off the coast of Libya on Tuesday, 9 May. They exacted a terrible toll: 11 dead, 230 missing, and 57 survivors.

Some 50 survivors were rescued Sunday. They were taken to Pozzallo, in the southern part of Sicily.

photo: Iker Pastor/Anadolu Agency/AFP

The flood of migrants and its attendant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean have not abated. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since May 5th over 6,000 people have crossed the sea to reach Italy. This brings the total number of immigrants who have taken that route since the beginning of the year to 43,000. In 2016, almost 180,000 made it to the coast of Italy, a record number. 90% came from Libya.

Over 1,150 people have disappeared or lost their lives since January. These past few days have been particularly deadly. Yesterday [1] the Libyan navy reported two new sinkings. The first was a boat transporting 170 immigrants (including 35 women and 9 children). It capsized Sunday off the coast of Zawia. Only seven passengers were saved (one woman and six men). The second boat, an inflatable raft that deflated, sank Sunday with 132 people on board. Around 50 of its passengers were saved by a Danish container ship diverted by the Italian coast guard. They were taken to Pozzallo, in the southern part of Sicily. In total, 11 migrants from these wrecks have been found dead, and 230 more have been reported missing.

"The number of passengers that smugglers are transporting on each boat has increased to an average of 100-150 people. These alarming conditions are the main cause of the sinkings. The risk is aggravated by the worsening condition of the craft and the growing use of inflatable boats instead of wooden ones," says Filippo Grandi, head of the UNHCR. "We have to act before people fall into the hands of smugglers in Libya or other transit countries. Migrants are often treated with terrible cruelty by smugglers even before they board these unseaworthy boats to cross the Mediterranean."

"Libya, a market for human trafficking"

The day after Grandi’s urgent statement, Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced her intention to open an investigation into crimes against migrants in Libya. Bensouda stated that she was "appalled by the legitimate reports stating that Libya has become a market for human trafficking." According to Bensouada, thousands of migrants, including women and children, are being held in detention centers where "crime, including murder, rape and acts of torture, are allegedly rampant."

[19 May

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