An empty rubber boat reportedly used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea before being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard | Photo: EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON
An empty rubber boat reportedly used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea before being intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard | Photo: EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

A boat carrying 25 migrants that departed from Libya in an attempt to reach Europe was adrift on the Mediterranean for almost two weeks. More than half of the passengers died of thirst and starvation.

Another 14 or 15 migrants have died at sea off the coast of Libya, but this time they didn't drown like thousands of others. These migrants didn't die after a minute or two of frantic desperation in the dark depths of the water. They died little by little, after days of suffering inflicted by hunger and, above all, thirst, after they were stuck adrift on the ocean for nearly two weeks, preyed on by the sun and inclement weather. 

This latest tragedy in migration and human trafficking emerged from survivor accounts that were filtered through a police source and a Libyan security forces spokesperson in Misrata, Libya. 

12 days at sea without food or water 

A wooden boat departed from Sabratha, Libya, with 25 migrants of various nationalities aboard. Sabratha is a well-known departure point for human trafficking, situated about 70 kilometres as the crow flies west of Tripoli. For reasons unknown, the boat's motor broke down and the boat drifted for more than 10 days before finally stranding on the Libyan coast off Misrata.

"They were at sea for 11 or 12 days without food or water," a Misrata police source said. "When one of them died, the others would throw the body overboard." According to the source, 13 bodies were thrown into the sea, while two bodies were still on the boat when the survivors were rescued. 

The source said 15 migrants died, while the  Misrata security forces spokesman, Col. Hisham Aldwaini, said that 14 died. 

Central Mediterranean route most dangerous 

The Central Mediterranean migrant route that runs from Libya to Italy and Malta is the deadliest in the Mediterranean basin and in the world. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there have been 1,285 deaths on this route so far in 2018 through December 2. That number is 55 percent lower than that for the same period last year. Between January and early December 2017, there were 2,844 deaths. 

Arrivals in Italy have dropped dramatically this year, down 88 percent (from 117,120 to 23,011), following the closure of Italian ports to migrants. 


 

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