02. Februar 2018 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Libyen, Italien: 90 Boat People ertrunken · Kategorien: Italien, Libyen · Tags: ,

BBC |  02.02.2018

Migrant crisis: Scores feared drowned off Libyan coast

Ninety migrants are feared drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, says the UN’s migration agency.

Three survivors said most of those who drowned were Pakistani nationals. Libyans were also aboard.

Libya has for years been a major transit route for migrants trying to reach southern Europe by sea.

EU countries have wrangled over both reducing migrant numbers and deciding which countries are responsible for processing migrants on arrival.

The EU struck a deal with the Libyan coastguard last year to help intercept migrants and return them to Libya.

But aid agencies and the UN accused European governments of taking an „inhuman“ approach

What happened in the latest disaster?

From a boat carrying more than 90, only three survivors are reported – two of whom managed to swim to shore, while the third was picked up by a fishing boat.

„Ten bodies are reported to have washed up on Libyan shores,“ the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

Unusually, there were also Libyans among the dead and survivors of the shipwreck, reports the BBC’s North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad.

The Facebook page of the security directorate in the coastal city of Zuwara, where the bodies washed up, said a Libyan woman had drowned, but that of the three survivors two were Libyan nationals.

What’s unusual about the nationalities of those on board?

The majority of incidents of this kind involve migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

In this case, most of those on board were Pakistani. The IOM says this is becoming more common.

While Pakistanis were 13th on a list of the number of migrants trying to reach Europe last year by nationality, so far this year they are third, the IOM says.

Perhaps aware of the danger, Libyans rarely attempt the boat journey from their country to southern Europe.

Some cases of illegal Libyan migration were documented last year, but they usually involved sturdier boats that were carrying few people.


Analysis: A trend that will worry Europe

Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent

Although it is not the first time Libyans have attempted this crossing, this is a rising development that European countries will likely be watching with concern.

The EU’s entire strategy to curb illegal migration from Libya onto its southern shores is built on refugees and asylum seekers from countries like Syria, Eritrea and Sudan, as well as the broader swathe of sub-Saharan African countries which generate the most economic migrants.

It’s largely been about border controls in the south, as well as getting the Libyan coastguard to intercept more migrants so they can be „voluntarily repatriated“ to their countries of origin.

As the uncertainties over the country’s future as a functioning state continue to mount, Libyans are getting increasingly desperate. I’ve been told by a UN special rapporteur for human rights that some of the country’s internally displaced people have recently been expressing a desire to make the illegal journey to Italy.

Haven’t the numbers of migrants reaching Europe been declining?

Overall this year, the IOM reports that there have been 6,624 arrivals by sea to Europe, compared to 5,983 in the same period of 2017.

So the numbers are comparable but this year’s figures still represent a considerable bounce-back following a dramatic fall over the second half of 2017, the IOM told the BBC.

Some of last year’s decline can be attributed to the EU’s controversial deal with the Libyan coastguard, but the IOM also believes there were difficulties within the people-trafficking industry.

„We think that there was a lot of pent-up demand in terms of migrants being held in warehouses by the smugglers,“ said the IOM’s Joel Millman.

If the channels have been opened again, that might explain the sudden surge which has seen numbers increase again.

What about the European migrant management programmes?

The latest deaths come just after the EU border agency Frontex announced the launch of Operation Themis on Thursday.

Unlike its previous mission, known as Triton, migrants rescued at sea will now be taken to the country that is co-ordinating the rescue, rather than just Italy.

Italy has increasingly vocally complained about a lack of EU solidarity in managing migration. It is also conscious of popular unease ahead of a 4 March national election.

However, as Italy undertakes the vast majority of sea rescues in waters between North Africa and its coast, Themis is unlikely to have more than a token effect on the numbers arriving in the country.

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Al Jazeera | 03.02.2014

Ninety feared dead after shipwreck off Libya coast

Around 90 people have drowned after a shipwreck off western Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A spokesperson for the UN-affiliated body said 10 bodies had washed ashore near the town of Zuwara. A fishing boat rescued one survivor, and another two managed to swim to shore.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said 11 of those killed were Pakistani.

„Eleven Pakistanis feared dead in boat sinking incident off the coast of Libya. [Pakistan] Embassy in Tripoli actively following up. Names and details of the deceased will follow as soon as Foreign Office gets them from Tripoli,“ Muhammad Faisal, a Foreign Office spokesperson, said on Twitter.

Two Libyans were also among the dead, the IOM said.

How the boat got into difficulties and ended up capsizing is still unclear.

„We know that the weather was calm, so that’s indicating that the smugglers – who are cavalier to say the least – have hugely overloaded this vessel,“ said the IOM’s Leonard Doyle. „We need to get the word out to people, desperate people around the world, who think they are coming to a better life and they are reading about it on social media, that it’s not the case.“

The route from Libya through the Mediterranean to Italy and other European Union states drew nearly 120,000 people in 2017.

As authorities in the EU and Turkey work to clamp down on routes between the Turkish coast and Greek islands, refugees and migrants are looking for alternate routes into Europe.

Libya, with its weak central government and proximity to Italian territory, is increasingly becoming the preferred option for many refugees despite the dangers involved in crossing the Mediterranean.

People smugglers often send refugees on their way on overcrowded and poorly maintained boats that are prone to capsizing or sinking.

The IOM describes the Mediterranean Sea as the world’s deadliest border. The body of water claimed the lives of 3,116 people trying to cross into Europe in 2017.

EU states, including Italy, are working with Libyan authorities to stem the flow of refugees trying to make the journey but Libyan officials say they do not have the resources to tackle the issue.

On January 10, around 100 refugees died when the inflatable boat they were travelling in capsized.

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