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110+ refugees have been killed since April 29, IOM says

3 May 2016 21:07


More than 110 people have been killed since April 29 taking the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.

“Just since Friday we know of 4 shipwrecks and 113 people killed, just off Libya,” Joel Millman told a news briefing.

In one of the four incidents, an Italian merchant ship rescued 26 people off the coast of Libya in rough seas, and others on board were feared missing, Italy’s Coast Guard said on April 30.

The IOM, citing survivor testimony, said 84 people appeared to be missing from that wreck, while at least 29 drowned in two other attempted crossings in rubber dinghies of the Channel of Sicily.

Italian officials believe more refugees will try to make their way to the continent via the much more perilous voyage across the Mediterranean due to the recent closing of the European Union land routes through the Balkans and a deal between the EU and Turkey, under which Greece sends refugees who reach the country back to Turkey.

Over 1,350 refugees perished at sea during the first four months of 2016, mostly along the Central Mediterranean route. The number stood at 1,733 for the same period in 2015, the IOM said.

This handout video capture released by the Italian Coast Guard on April 30, 2016, shows shipwrecked refugees arriving at the Lampedusa harbor after a rescue operation at sea, off the coast of Libya. (AFP Photo)

Since January, nearly 28,595 refugees have arrived by sea in Italy, while over 154,860 have landed in Greece, the IOM said.

Refugees taking the Libya-Italy route are mostly from West Africa and the Horn of Africa, while refugees landing in Greece and taking the Balkans route are Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, fleeing from war and persecution.

Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-hit regions, forcing more people out of their homes.

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