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30 May 2016

A migrant rescued at sea is helped aboard an Italian Navy vessel. Photo: Antonio Parrinello/Reuters.

Three Days, 700 Deaths on Mediterranean as Migrant Crisis Flares

Italy — The migrant ships kept sinking. First came a battered, blue-decked vessel that flipped over on Wednesday (25/5) as terrified migrants plunged into the Mediterranean Sea. The next day, a flimsy craft capsized with hundreds of people aboard. And on Friday, still another boat sank into the deceptively placid waters of the Mediterranean, write Jim Yardley and Gaia Pianigiani in The New York Times.

Three days and three sunken ships are again confronting Europe with the horrors of its refugee crisis, as desperate people trying to reach the Continent keep dying at sea. At least 700 people from the three boats are believed to have drowned, the United Nations refugee agency announced on Sunday (30/5), in one of the deadliest weeks in the Mediterranean in recent memory.

The latest drownings — which would push the death toll for the year to more than 2,000 people — are a reminder of the cruel paradox of the Mediterranean calendar: As summer approaches with blue skies, warm weather and tranquil waters prized by tourists, human trafficking along the North African coastline traditionally kicks into a higher gear.

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Irregular migrants intercepted at sea face indefinite detention in Libya. Photo: Cadem Demir / Andolou Agency / Getty Images.

Libya Is Saving Migrants At Sea, But They Face Dire Conditions On Land

Libya - Europe, desperate to stem the flow of refugees and migrants, has offered Libya help to stop migrants from leaving, writes Charlotte Alfred for The Huffington Post. Libyan forces intercepted over 2,000 trying to flee by boat this week, as European leaders offered the country’s fragile new administration more help to turn back migrant boats.

Among them were four boats crammed with 500 people headed to Europe, including three children and eight pregnant women, that were intercepted by Libyan coastguards on Tuesday. They are now destined for Libya’s network of overcrowded, squalid detention centers, where human rights groups say violence is rampant and detention can stretch on indefinitely.

Libya’s efforts are potentially saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea, but they risk solving one problem by creating another. Incarcerated migrants report beatings and unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in Libya’s immigration detention centers.

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Last week, we asked you about unaccompanied & separated children on our #KnowMigration polls. Here is how we define it:


Migration in the News

  • CNN and Irish Times reported that over 700 migrants are feared dead in three Mediterranean shipwrecks between Libya and Italy in the past week as they tried to reach Europe in unseaworthy smuggling boats.

  • AP reported that UNHCR has urged Serbia and Hungary to find a solution for 300 migrants camping in dire conditions on the Serbian side of the border, hoping to enter the European Union (EU.)

  • AP reported that a multinational NATO maritime force deployed to the Aegean to help stop the smuggling of migrants from Turkey to Greece has helped to reduce the flow of people into Europe.

  • Al Jazeera reported that human rights groups have urged the EU to do more to protect refugees fleeing war and persecution, following the death of scores trying to reach Europe in overcrowded boats.

  • Voice of America reported on new IOM data that shows a significant increase in the number of migrants journeying across the Sahara from West Africa to Algeria, Libya and Europe.

  • Huffington Post reported that during a Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi, Germany’s Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki reproached Europeans who turn a blind eye to the plight of migrants. 

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  • AFP reported that Malaysia says that 68 Syrian refugees “temporarily” resettled from Lebanon will be allowed to work and their children will be able to attend public schools.

Media Contacts

For comment / interviews on today's news, please go to the contact(s) listed at the end of each press briefing note.
For other information please contact the IOM Media & Communications team here