Libyan migrant drownings 'must stop'

2011-05-10 13:26
Geneva - Hundreds of migrants fleeing fighting in Libya have drowned, aid agencies said on Tuesday in an appeal to Nato and the European Union to intervene.

"We are very concerned about what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea, where we are learning of many deaths due to capsized boats," Melissa Fleming, spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing.

"The full death toll unfortunately is unknown to us," she added.

In one of the latest tragedies, migrants who arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa at the weekend told the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) they had seen a ship carrying between 500 to 600 people sinking near Tripoli late last week.

It is unclear how many of those drowned.

Even before that incident, Fleming said the UNHCR believed that from March 25, at least 800 people fleeing Libya did not make it safely to shore.

Most of the migrants are from sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN officials.

All vessels in the busy waters must be on the lookout for overcrowded boats and immediately raise the alarm that they are probably in distress, the IOM and UNHCR said.

"We are reiterating our appeal to European states to urgently put in place more reliable and effective mechanisms for rescue at sea on the Mediterranean," Fleming said.

The Italian and Maltese coast guards cannot carry the burden alone, she added.

"We have been in contact with officials at Nato...We have appealed to them at least to be aware that there will be more and more boats in distress," Fleming said.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.