Res­cue ship car­ry­ing mi­grants reaches Italy af­ter deadly week in Mediter­ranean

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MESSINA, Italy: A res­cue ship car­ry­ing more than 200 mi­grants and eight bod­ies, docked in Si­cily yes­ter­day af­ter a deadly week in the Mediter­ranean in which hun­dreds drowned try­ing to reach Europe from Libya. Most of the 219 men, women and chil­dren on the res­cue ship Bour­bon Ar­gos were West Africans, ac­cord­ing to Doc­tors with­out Bor­ders, which op­er­ates the ship. They in­cluded 27 men who were res­cued by the Bri­tish navy on Wed­nes­day, and trans­ferred to the Bour­bon Ar­gos, af­ter the rub­ber boat they were on de­flated. Six bod­ies were fished out of the wa­ter on Wed­nes­day and 97 oth­ers who were on the dinghy are miss­ing and feared dead.

In to­tal, an es­ti­mated 365 mi­grants drowned last week in the Mediter­ranean, the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion (IOM) said on Fri­day. Sur­vivors of the dinghy said that a smug­gler towed them out to sea for two hours and then at gun­point forced them to hand over the life jack­ets they had paid for, plus the dinghy’s en­gine, and left them adrift.

“At that mo­ment I thought we were go­ing to die, I knew we were not close to Italy and with­out an en­gine we could not get far. The smug­gler told us we would be res­cued, but I felt we were go­ing to die,” Ab­doul­lae Diallo, 18, from Sene­gal said in French in an in­ter­view con­ducted on board the res­cue ves­sel.

The Bri­tish Royal Navy’s HMS En­ter­prise, pa­trolling as part of the EU’s anti-smug­gling mis­sion Sophia, picked up the sur­vivors cling­ing to what was left of the rub­ber boat about 55 nau­ti­cal miles from Tripoli. The death toll in the Mediter­ranean-the most dan­ger­ous border cross­ing on the planet for mi­grants-is es­ti­mated to be 4,636 this year, 1,000 more than in all of 2015, the IOM said on Fri­day. More than 168,000 mi­grants have reached Italy by boat this year, ex­ceed­ing 154,000 for the whole of 2015 and quickly ap­proach­ing 2014’s 170,000 record.

Italy has borne the brunt of new ar­rivals since the im­ple­men­ta­tion in March of an agree­ment be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Turkey to curb the flow of mi­grants sail­ing for

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