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  • Thirty-four of 60 migrants aboard a dingy in the Mediterranean have reportedly drowned.

    Thirty-four of 60 migrants aboard a dingy in the Mediterranean have reportedly drowned. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 20 January 2019
Opinion

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported 10 women and two children, including a two-month-old baby, among the missing from the shipwreck.

The Italian navy reported the sinking of a ship off the coast of Libya on Saturday. The boat was carrying 117 migrants on board, but the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is yet to verify the death toll.

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported 10 women and two children, including a two-month-old baby, among the missing from the shipwreck.

The migrants aboard the dinghy come from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gambia, and Sudan, according to the IOM citing survivor’s statements.

A survivor who spent 24 hours stranded at sea is currently receiving medical treatment in Morocco.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the high number of people dying on Europe’s doorstep,” said top UNHCR official Filippo Grandi.

As many as 120 migrants were being transported on the smuggler’s dinghy which launched Thursday from the shores of Libya, according to another report by Flavio Di Giacomo from the IOM.

“After a few hours, it began sinking and people began drowning,” said Giacomo.

The Italian government said one of its patrol airplanes had been able to identify the sinking boat. At this point, there were 20 people aboard. Two life rafts were then dropped from the airplane near the site in an attempt to give immediate aid.

Later, the Navy sent a helicopter to the shipwreck area which was able to rescue three survivors, all suffering from hypothermia, according to the navy.

This latest tragedy is one of many which has taken place in recent years along the treacherous route from North Africa to Europe.

In 2018, more than 2,200 lost their lives trying to make it across the Mediterranean, according to the BBC.

Italy has recently been busy training the Libyan government on how to intercept and return migrants fleeing to Europe by way of the Mediterranean.

The UNHCR has expressed concern about this practice which sends refugees back to the places they are escaping from because they will be forced to face situations of poverty, rape, beatings, and torture.

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