Updated | 18 asylum seekers die in latest Mediterranean tragedy

Italian navy saves 76 asylum seekers 150 miles south of Lampedusa, 18 die from dehydration and hypothermia. Amnesty International urges Europe to deploy search and recue operations. 

File Photo
File Photo

The Italian Navy today recovered 18 dead asylum seekers from a vessel in the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea. Reports in the Italian media say that the migrants' death was probably caused by dehydration and hypothermia. 

In total 17 migrants died in a dinghy which was spotted by rescuers 40 miles north of Tripoli, Libya and 150 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Another migrant died following the rescue of 76 survivors by the Italian’s navy’s vessel ‘Etna’ in what is the first tragedy since Italy’s rescue mission Mare Nostrum was replaced by the EU led operation Triton.

Moreover, in the past hours a further 202 asylum seekers were rescued by two Italian Navy vessels.

In October last year, hundreds of migrants died in two seperate shipwrecks, including an estimated 200 asylum seekers who died after their boat capsized in Maltese search and rescue waters.

According to the UNHCR, around 3,000 migrants died at sea in their attempt to reach Europe this year alone.
Amnesty urges Europe to deploy search and rescue operations 

As a response, Amnesty International urged European member states to step up their efforts to protect refugees and migrants by deploying search and rescue operations.

“These latest deaths show yet again how vital it is that the EU maintains adequate search and rescue capacity along the routes taken by those fleeing conflict and persecution,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. “The down-sizing of Italy’s search and rescue operation without an effective EU-wide replacement is putting the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk.”

According to the Italian Navy, the 16 perished due to hypothermia and dehydration. A further 76 refugees and migrants were rescued, of whom two were reportedly in critical conditions. One later died.

Italy announced the end of search and rescue Operation Mare Nostrum on 31 October and Amnesty warned that the EU’s alternative, Operation Triton, is merely a border control operation and no substitute for Mare Nostrum.

“People are still taking these dangerous sea routes to get to Europe,” Dalhusien said. “If the EU is serious about preventing the Mediterranean from becoming a cemetery, it must be prepared to deploy search and rescue operations all along the routes that desperate refugees and migrants are taking.”