Maritime News

Record number of migrants cross the Mediterranean

30 June 2017

A record number of migrants have attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea into European waters in the last few days. Nearly 12,000 refugees and migrants made the crossing from Libya to Italy in just five days, as weather conditions improved, including more than 5,000 on just one day.

The pressure of new arrivals has led to political debate in Italy, which is bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis. While there has been talk about Italy banning the landing of vessels from Libya, this would contravene international law about the rescue of people in distress at sea. More than 73,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year, an increase of 14 percent since the same period in 2016, and about 2,000 are feared to have died en route.

Non-governmental agencies involved in the rescue of migrants have called on the European Union to organise dedicated search-and-rescue missions in the Mediterranean. A previous EU initiative to strengthen the role of the Libyan coastguard in preventing the large-scale trafficking of refugees and migrants appears to have had little effect in stopping the traffickers sending thousands of people out to sea in overcrowded and dangerously unseaworthy boats. 


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