New massacre of migrants off the Tunisian coast
While the Italian hotspot of Lampedusa empties thanks to the calm sea and over a thousand migrants leave the island on quarantine ships and scheduled ferries, there have been new departures from Libya and, at least in one case, a fatal shipwreck has occurred. According to reports from the International Organization for the Migration of the United Nations (OIM), a boat that left Zuwara, in Western Libya, two days ago overturned: 17 people who are missing, two young women were saved.
Despite the boat departed from western Libya, the accident occurred off the coast of Tunisia. On the other side of Libya, east of Tripoli, there is concern about the fate of a rubber boat that left Al-Khoms on which there are about a hundred illegal migrants.
The NGO Alarm Phone, the “migrant switchboard”, received a request for help in the late morning: “They board water and ask for help they say that five people are dying,” tweeted Alarm Phone organization before losing contact with the rubber. The NGO said it had informed all the authorities in the area and the evening it was learned from UNHCR that the Libyan Coast Guard managed to reach the boat, bringing back 99 migrants.
“We hope they all survived despite having told us that 5 people risked death,” Alarm Phone commented on the news via Twitter. The Libyans also brought back a second boat with 52 migrants. UNHCR tweeted that “the IRC partner was on-site to provide medical assistance to all asylum seekers and migrants and that the Western Libyan authorities have placed all survivors in detention centers.
According to IOM Libya, since the beginning of the year and excluding any victims today, there are at least 506 dead and missing in the central Mediterranean: 157 confirmed deaths, of the other 349 nothing is known. In all of 2020, there were 978. The Libyan Coast Guard has brought back, at this end of 2021, over seven thousand people; they had been just under 12 thousand in all last year. 13,074 migrants have managed to reach Italy since January, about two thousand only last Sunday in the Italian island of Lampedusa. Both Libya and Tunisia receive large sums of money from the European Union while not guaranteeing the standards required to accommodate migrants. The two countries, for their part, claim to be transit territories, reaffirming their willingness to stop migrant boats only for generous compensation.