A rubber dinghy carrying migrants that sunk in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya brought the total of number of shipwrecks to three in just four days. About 100 people went "missing" (almost certainly drowned) in this most recent incident. The shipwrecks are taking place within a new framework caused by the closure of Italian ports and the more comprehensive drawing up of the "bridges of the European fortress", which human smugglers are noticeably trying to race to avoid, by sending out waves of dilapidated rubber dinghies full of migrants.
As with the shipwreck Sunday evening that claimed the lives of 63 migrants, it was UNHCR that announced this most recent tragedy with a tweet, noting "16 survivors of a boat carrying 130 persons, of which 114 are still missing at sea".
Ten children aboard
UNHCR sources told ANSA it was a rubber dinghy that had launched from Gars Garabulli, east of Tripoli, that then sank. The scarce information hides the nightmare of screams, desperate fumbling, and bodies sinking in a terrifying situation that one can imagine for this shipwreck as well as that of last Friday, with more than a hundred migrants aboard, including 10 children. Three of the recovered bodies in that shipwreck were those of newborns. On Sunday, there were 41 survivors.
15,000 victims in the Mediterranean from 2014-2017
On the Central Mediterranean route between Italy and Libya, which has been for years the deadliest in the world, the overall victim count is now climbing by the hour. The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that since the beginning of the year through June 27, 653 migrants had died on this route. When the western and eastern Mediterranean routes are included, the victim count for 2018 is nearly 1,000.
The carnage has been going on for years, with nearly 15,000 victims in the Mediterranean from 2014 to 2017; the victim count rises to 38,000 for the period from 2000 to 2017, according to IOM data. This is a structural tragedy, but one that has recently picked up speed.
OIM's head of mission in Libya, Othman Belbeisi, on Sunday said that there's an "alarming increase of deaths off the coast of Libya". He said traffickers are taking advantage of migrants' "desperate desire to depart before Europe closes even further to Mediterranean crossings".