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Sea migration is an issue in many areas

2 February 2018

Unregulated migration by sea has become an issue of concern in many areas. While the focus for the last few years has been on the dangers of crossing the Mediterranean Sea, and the many deaths resulting, the illegal “trade” in people by sea, and the consequences, also affect other waters.

In a recent day of incidents in the Mediterranean, the Italian coastguard rescued about 800 migrants travelling from Libya to Italy in five separate operations, and recovered two bodies. The migrants were travelling on two barges, two rubber dinghies and one small boat.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 20,000 people have died attempting the crossing to Italy in the past four years, and that 4,742 people had reached Europe by sea in January alone. Merchant ships are often involved in rescue operations when they spot people in distress at sea.

Another area where people have been taking desperate measures to travel by sea has been in the waters off Yemen. In a recent incident, people traffickers are alleged to have fired automatic weapons to force refugees to jump into heavy seas off the coast of Yemen. They had demanded extra payment from the refugees, who had refused. An estimated 30 people are believed to have died after their small fishing boat, which was travelling from Aden to Djibouti and carrying at least 152 Somalis and Ethiopians, capsized in the shooting. One of the survivors told the media: “We knew this was a risky journey but living in Yemen is more risky.”

Meanwhile, the British authorities have arrested two men suspected of people smuggling after a search-and-rescue operation rescued nine people from a small inflatable boat crossing the English Channel. The eight men and one woman were from Albania. A spokesperson from the National Crime Agency commented that: “This incident demonstrates the dangers associated with attempts to cross the Channel in this manner, and it is extremely fortunate that all those on this vessel were able to be recovered safe and well.”


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