By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 5 November
Another ten African migrants drowned this weekend when their boat sank 56 km off the Libyan coast. . . .[restrict]A further 70 people, including a pregnant woman, were rescued by the Italian coastguard.
The vessel was sinking when the Italian coast guard reached it and many of the migrants were in the water. Some of them already had symptoms of hypothermia. The migrants, who were reported to be Somalis, were taken to the small Italian island of Lampedusa.
The alarm was raised by someone on the sinking boat with a satellite telephone. A Maltese airforce patrol aircraft spotted the vessel and directed the Italian coastguard to the scene.
The Italian embassy in Libya released a statement saying: “The Italian Foreign Minister, Giulio Terzi, expressed his deep sorrow and offered his condolences to the families of the victims. Terzi also reaffirmed the need to further enhance the cooperation between all the Countries involved, with an organic approach to the migratory issue which should take into proper consideration the protection of rights of migrants and refugees.”
In September Amnesty International criticised the European Union’s failure to protect migrants, who risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. They noted that in April, Italy’s government signed another agreement with the NTC “to continue cooperation on preventing the arrival of migrants departing from the North African country.”
Amnesty noted that under Qaddafi’s rule, Libya “had a history of detaining and torturing migrants.” The human rights organisation, however, added: “it is still not safe in Libya for migrants, particularly those from sub-Saharan countries.”
In 2011 some 1,500 people died attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean, many via Lampedusa. [/restrict]