Sunday, 29 May 2016

Another Sad News: Shipwrecks ‘kill up to 700’ Migrant {See Photos}

More than 700 migrants are feared dead in three Mediterranean shipwrecks near Italy in the last few
days as they tried to reach Europe in unseaworthy smuggling boats, the UN refugee agency said on Sunday.

UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said an estimated 100 people are missing from a boat which capsized on Wednesday. The Italian navy took pictures of that capsizing even as it rushed to rescue all those thrown into the sea from the vessel.
Migrants and refugees call for help from shipreck off Libya. Photograph: Marina Militare/ AFP
She said about 550 others are missing from a smuggling boat that capsized on Thursday morning after leaving the western Libyan port of Sabratha a day earlier.
Ms Sami says refugees claimed that boat, which was carrying about 670 people, did not have an engine and was being towed by another packed smuggling boat before it capsized.
A flotilla of ships saved 668 people from boats in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday, authorities in Italy said, bringing the week’s total of refugees rescued from the sea to 14,000 people.
The rescues by the Italian coast guard and navy ships, aided by Irish and German vessels and humanitarian groups, are the latest by a multinational patrol south of the Italian island of Sicily.
The Irish naval vessel the LÉ Róisín rescued a total of 123 migrants and refugees from a 12m-long rubber vessel northwest of Tripoli on Saturday after receiving a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre and Operation Mare Sicuro.
Rescuers help migrants to board the Italian Navy ship ‘Vega’ after the boat they were aboard sunk. An estimated 14,000 migrants have been rescued by Italian coast guard and navy ships, aided by Irish and German vessels and humanitarian groups. Photograph: AP
Crew from the LÉ Róisín also recovered the body of a man from the craft. The vessel then received a further 224 migrants following transfers from an Italian ship and a German ship. It currently has 347 migrants on board.
Warmer spring weather has led to a surge of people attempting the perilous crossing from Africa to Europe.
Meanwhile, with shelters filling up in Sicily, the Italian navy vessel Vega headed toward Reggio Calabria, a southern Italian mainland port, bringing 135 survivors and 45 bodies from a rescue a day earlier. The Vega was due to dock on Sunday.
Other survivors who arrived on Saturday in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo told authorities they had witnessed a fishing boat filled with” hundreds” of people sink on Thursday, a Save The Children spokeswoman, Giovanna Di Benedetto, said by telephone from Sicily.

According to survivors, two smugglers’ fishing boats and a dinghy set sail on Wednesday night from Libya’s coast. Di Benedetto said the survivors were among 500 or so aboard the one fishing boat that didn’t sink and the dinghy.
“All of this must be verified, of course,” said Di Benedetto, but if the survivors’ accounts bear out, as many as 400 people could have drowned, with only a very few of those on the vessel that sank able to reach the other boats.
Authorities say many boats in the past few years apparently have sunk without a trace in the Mediterranean, with the dead never found. Often the only news about them comes when family members in Africa or Europe tell authorities that their loved ones never arrived after setting sail from Libya.
Under a European Union deal, tens of thousands of those rescued at sea and seeking asylum were supposed to be relocated to other EU nations from Italy and Greece, where most of the refugees have landed.
But with resentment building in some European countries about taking in more people, the plan never really took off, and only a small percentage of those slated for relocation have actually been moved.
At the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Francis told several hundred children, among them many migrants, who came from southern Italy that migrants “aren’t a danger but they are in danger.”
The pontiff held a red life vest given to him by a volunteer. He told the children the vest was used by a Syrian girl who died while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
“She’s in heaven, she’s watching us,” he said.
Among those in the audience was a Nigerian youth who lost his parents in 2014 as the family tried to reach Italy by sea.
The pope has repeatedly expressed dismay that some European nations have refused to accept those fleeing poverty or war, and have even thrown up razor-wire fences and other barriers to thwart their arrivals.
The migrants, many of whom do not know how to swim and do not have life jackets, pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to make the crossing.
They are piled onto flimsy rubber boats or old fishing vessels, and as dramatic images from the crew of the Italian Navy ship Bettica showed on Wednesday, they can be tossed into the water in a matter of seconds.
The images show the moment a blue fishing boat capsized, sending hundreds of migrants tumbling into the sea. About 240 women and children had already been rescued, but an unknown number were trapped in the hull. Only five bodies were recovered and 562 were saved.
Testimony from survivors suggests there were still many people below deck who were not able to escape, according to the UN refugee agency, while the Bettica captain estimated that “some 100” may have been lost.
On Thursday, when 4,000 were rescued in 22 separate operations, survivors from another overturned fishing boat say some 200 may have drowned, a sharp rise from the 20-30 originally estimated, according to an Italian Interior Ministry source. Some 15 bodies were recovered, he said.
“It’s obvious that no matter the great effort made by rescuers, when the numbers are as high as we’re seeing this week, it’s very risky,” said Federico Fossi, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Rome.
“But in terms of numbers it’s the third year that this is ‘normal’,” Mr Fossi said. “It’s the beginning of the high season and we’re still at slightly fewer arrivals as the same period last year.”
In 2014 and 2015, more than 320,000 boat migrants arrived on Italian shores, and an estimated 7,000 died in the Mediterranean as they sought to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
On Friday the IOM said it estimates total Mediterranean deaths at sea to be 1,475 this year.

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