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300,000 Refugees, Migrants Cross Mediterranean Sea

Posted by feww on August 28, 2015

Up to 3,000 migrants, refugees killed while crossing the Mediterranean: UNHCR

More than 300,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year including about 200,000 landing in Greece and 110,000 in Italy. In comparison, about 219,000 people crossed the Mediterranean during the whole of 2014, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

More than 2,500 people have lost their lives while making the crossing this year, excluding about 200 who are feared to have drowned off the coast of Libya over the past day. About 3,500 people died or went missing in the Mediterranean during the whole of 2014, said UNHCR spokesperson at a press briefing in Geneva earlier today.

In the last few days, more people have lost their lives in three separate incidents.

The Libyan Coast Guard carried two rescue operations on Thursday morning, seven miles off the port town of Zwara. Two boats carrying an approximate total of 500 refugees and migrants were intercepted and survivors taken to shore in Libya. An estimated 200 people are still missing and feared dead. A still undetermined number of bodies were recovered and taken to shore. The Libyan Red Crescent has been helping with the collection of the bodies.

On Wednesday (26th August), rescuers coming to the aid of a boat off the Libyan coast found 51 people dead from suffocation in the hold. According to survivors, smugglers were charging people money for allowing them to come out of the hold in order to breathe. One survivor, Abdel, 25, from Sudan told our colleagues, “we didn’t want to go down there but they beat us with sticks to force us. We had no air so we were trying to get back up through the hatch and to breathe through the cracks in the ceiling. But the other passengers were scared the boat would capsize so they pushed us back down and beat us too. Some were stamping on our hands.” Another survivor, Mahdi, an orthopaedic surgeon from Baghdad, told us he paid 3,000 euros to get his wife and two-year-old son on the top deck.

Last week (15 August), in a similar incident, the bodies of 49 persons were found in the hold of another boat. They are thought to have died after inhaling poisonous fumes.

Also on Wednesday, a rubber dinghy carrying some 145 refugees and migrants ran into trouble when the person steering it made a manoeuvre that caused the dinghy to tilt dangerously to one side. Some people fell into the sea and two men jumped into the water to rescue them. Panic ensued and people began to jostle and shove and, as a result, three women were crushed to death on the dinghy. Of those who fell in the water, 18 are still missing and believed to have drowned. The survivors were rescued and taken to Lampedusa, including the two-month old baby of one of the women who died. Most of the survivors are in critical condition, suffering from shock, cuts and bruises.

Bodies of 71 people found in Austria meat truck

Austrian police say they have discovered bodies of 71 people, believed to be migrants, in an abandoned truck near the Hungarian border.

The victims, believed to be Syrian migrants and thought to have been dead for several days, included four children, eight women and 59 men.

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