On Sunday, at least 15 migrants, mostly western Africans, are thought to have drowned in a deadly shipwreck while attempting Europe-bound migration in the Mediterranean Sea.
Safa Msehli, the spokesperson for UN migration agency IOM, said in Twitter, a rubber boat carrying at least 110 migrants started to sink early Sunday. Libya’s coast guard managed to rescue at least 95 migrants, including six women and two children.
A Germen NGO refugee rescue ship, the Sea-Watch 3, has saved around 450 people, in three days in total six operations, picking them up from fragile boats in Libya and Malta’s search-and-rescue (SAR) zones since last Friday.
A Libyan patrol boat picked up another 100 people from a distress, making the total number of rescued refugees to 550, between Friday to Sunday.
On early hours of Monday, the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 saved 90 people from a wooden boat that was in imminent danger of sinking near the waters of Lampedusa. At that time, the vessel had already picked up 363 people in five operations. The crew had to evacuate the 90 survivors to life rafts due to lack of space on the ship.
The Sea-Watch announced on Twitter, how initially Italy and Malta denied support. Later, the Italian coast guard agreed to transfer the 90 people rescued by the Sea-Watch to their vessel and took them on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Sea Watch 3 head of mission Hugo Grenier said in an interview: “Yet again, Europe turns a blind eye while people are drowning and civil sea rescue organisations do their best to put an end to the dying at sea.”
Last week, at least 41 of 120 migrants were reported dead. In January, at least 43 migrants had died near Libya, in the first major shipwreck in the area this year.
According to the IOM, around 170 people have already lost their lives in the central Mediterranean in the first two months of 2021.