By Sami Zaptia.
London, 6 September 2016:
Over 2,600 migrants in 22 rescue missions were saved while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya yesterday, the Italian Coast Guard reported.
The multiple rescue operations were carried out by the Italian Coast Guard, the Italian Navy, the EU’s Sophia Operation and NGO’s including MOAS and the Italian Red Cross.
The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station NGO reported that during its operations it had rescued 354 migrants and recovered seven dead bodies – five women and two men. They were believed to have died from inhaling toxic fumes from an overloaded rubber boat.
MSF believe many of the rubber boats are of poor quality exported to Libya from China. Yesterday no less than eight young children aged from 1 to 11 were amongst those rescued – including a two-year old.
The rescued included many youth and children with MSF reporting that over 18,000 unaccompanied children had already crossed the Mediterranean in 2016.
The tide of migrants launched from the Libyan coast across the Mediterranean has failed to subside despite the EU’s Operation Sophia designed to stem the flow. The continued migrant crossings have also continued unabated despite the installation of the pro—EU Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council/Government of National Accord in Tripoli since 30th March.
In its latest figures released today, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that 288,005 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 up to 4 September. This total does not include the hundreds still on their way to Italian ports after being rescued Sunday and Monday in the Channel of Sicily.
In 2016 almost all migrant and refugee landings in the Mediterranean were to Greece and Italy, where 116,861 migrants and refugees have been recorded through Sunday.
Confirmed Mediterranean fatalities among migrants and refugees, the IOM reports, stands at 3,176 – a figure that does not include 15 bodies reportedly recovered Monday. These Mediterranean deaths are almost 500 more than those recorded up to 6 September 2015.
This indicates that while total arrivals are now lower than they were at this time last year, the number of reported deaths is significantly higher, says the IOM.