Tragedy in the Mediterranean

400 migrants drown off the coast of Libya

GMT 18:13 Wednesday ,15 April 2015

 Migrant Voice - 400 migrants drown off the coast of Libya

©/ UNHCR / A. D'Amato June 2014
Allison McLellan

Approximately 400 migrants are believed to have drowned off the coast of Libya en route to Italy on Monday, April 13.

There have been 144 survivors saved by the Italian coast guard, and 9 bodies have been recovered. An air and sea search has found no further survivors or bodies.

Save The Children was able to interview the survivors. The organisation’s president and chief executive Carolyn Miles says, “Rescue at sea of migrants must be a priority for Italy and for Europe, and the European Union should strengthen its capacity for search and rescue missions, as more people risk and lose their lives making this perilous journeys.”

Last year, Operation Mare Nostrum, a large Italian-run search-and-rescue operation saved about 100,000 lives in the Mediterranean. However, last fall, the EU chose not to create a replacement for the operation, believing it established “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths,” according to Baroness Anelay, a British Minister.

As the weather becomes warmer, the numbers of migrants traveling by sea to flee conflict increases. 7,000 have been rescued in the Mediterranean since Friday.

“Even if there was a government decision to drown the migrant boats, there will still be people going by boat because the individual considers himself dead already,” says one man fleeing Syria. “I don’t think that even if they decided to bomb migrant boats it would change peoples’ decision to go.”

The EU is scheduled to assess and modify migration policies in May. To read the full stories, go here and here. Also read page 24-25 of our Migrant Voice newspaper here.


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