UN announce over 300 migrants dead in latest Mediterranean boat tragedy

The three boats were making the journey from Libya to the Italian island of Lampedusa

Migrants at Lampedusa after being rescued by the Italian Coast Guard
Migrants at Lampedusa after being rescued by the Italian Coast Guard

An estimated 300 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after three rubber boats carrying refugees from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa were reported missing, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

UN officials confirmed the “tragedy on an enormous scale” after interviewing the nine survivors rescued by the Italian Coast Guard on Wednesday morning.

However, the ill-equipped and over-crowded rubber boats soon ran into rough seas and were knocked off course.

Another boat also left Libya on Sunday.

Its 107 passengers were rescued by Italian Coast Guards on Monday after their boat was capsized by heavy waves.

Of the 107 people to be rescued, 29 died of hypothermia on the journey back to Italy.

The latest tragedies have seen the UN and other organisations urge the European Union to invest more time and money into its Mediterranean maritime patrols.

The EU launched its Triton Mediterranean patrols in 2014, following the decision by Italian officials to wind down their robust Mare Nostrum (Our Seas) patrols, set up after 360 migrants drowned in the seas off Lampedusa.

However, organisations have criticised Triton saying that it doesn’t do enough to save the lives of migrants making the journey from North Africa to Italy.

Bodies of the victims being driven away in hearses

Currently, Triton patrols operate only a few miles off the Italian coast, meaning that incidents that occur closer to the Libyan coast can often be missed.

Organisations like UNHCR, Save The Children and Amnesty International have called on the EU to expand Triton’s operations closer to the Libyan coast.

Laurens Jolles, the head of the U.N. agency for southern Europe, said in a statement:.”The Triton operation doesn't have as its principal mandate saving human lives, and thus cannot be the response that is urgently needed,“

She was supported by UNHCR official, Vincent Cochetel, who said on Wednesday: ”This is a tragedy on an enormous scale and a stark reminder that more lives could be lost if those seeking safety are left at the mercy of the sea.

““Europe cannot afford to do too little too late.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in