Nearly 250 missing in Med shipwrecks

Nearly 250 missing in Med shipwrecks

Nearly 250 missing in Med shipwrecks

The United Nations says up to two hundred forty five migrants are missing after two shipwrecks this weekend in the Mediterranean sea.

Some 275 refugees and migrants waiting to disembark from a tug in the port of Pozzalo after being rescued a few days earlier. About 50 others were rescued and taken to the Sicilian port of Pozzallo.

According to global organizations, between 800,000 and one million people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, are now in Libya hoping to make the risky Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

Chaotic Libya has become a major avenue of migration, with thousands braving the unsafe sea crossing to Europe.

"The increasing numbers of passengers on board vessels used by traffickers, with an average of 100 to 150 people, are alarming and the main cause of shipwrecks", said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

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By stopping refugees from leaving Libya, Italy and the European Union are condemning them to conditions that can only be described as hellish. That number is forecast to top 200,000 in 2017, a figure increasingly playing a role in Italian politics ahead of critical elections due next year.

A Rome-based IOM spokesman, Flavio Di Giacomo, said in an interview in Tuesday's La Stampa newspaper that there have been recent indications that some migrants have chose to flee the harsh conditions in Libya to return to their homelands, renouncing their dream of reaching Europe and safety, although "the majority take the risk of the sea".

He said that in many cases, the refugees are attacked at sea by smugglers who seize their mobile phones.

According to the statement, over 41,000 migrants arrived in Italy, around 5.560 in Greece and 133 in Cyprus. The conditions in Libyan detention centers have been widely criticized.

Smugglers take advantage of the state of chaos and insecurity to send thousands of migrants towards Europe, many of whom drown on the way. Just last month, reports about migrants being sold into slavery and the rescue boats carrying refugees on the Libyan Mediterranean route colluding with smugglers came about showing the horrendous situations faced by refugees and migrants in the region. He later insisted he was not referring to the large NGOs.

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