Update 2: The latest incident may prove to be the deadliest disaster ever. According to the UN Refugee Agency only 50 of the 700 people on board have been rescued, meaning it would be the “largest loss of life from any incident on the Mediterranean involving refugees and migrants.”
Update: I first posted this podcast interview with John Dalhuisen of Amnesty International in early February, after the year’s first migrant boat tragedy claimed nearly 300 people. Now, there is word this week of an even deadlier disaster this week.
400 people are believed to have drowned when their double decker boat capsized off the coast of Libya. Many of the dead are believed to be children who were accompanying their families on the perilous trip to reach European soil.
These deaths are avoidable. Last year, the Italian Navy mounted a robust search and rescue operation called Mare Nostrum that saved the lives of more than 100,000 migrants. But the Italian government shut that operation down in December, citing its costs. A joint EU operation replaced it, but it does not have nearly the same search and rescue capabilities as Mare Nostrum.
All the while, the same time, the “push” factors of conflict and depravation that are driving this migration wave from North Africa are only getting more intense.
This is a recipe for total disaster. These disasters at sea will keep occurring unless the EU steps up and boosts its capacity to rescue these vulnerable migrants.
Listen to this Global Dispatches Podcast episode below to learn more about this ongoing tragedy off European shores and what can be done to stop it.
Original post below
There is a tragedy unfolding in the Mediterranean sea. Migrants trying to reach an Italian island off the coast of Libya are dying by the boatload, and Europe is turning a blind eye. Just this week, the UN Refugee Agency estimated that over 300 people have died in the most recent incident. Meanwhile, an Italian search and rescue operation that saved thousands of people last year has been shelved. John Dalhuisen of Amnesty International is on the line to discuss this crisis, what Europe and Italy could be doing to stop it, and why this ongoing tragedy is poised to get much worse.