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1,600 Immigrants Lost in Mediterranean Seas This Year | WGN Radio 720

Immigrants and refugees will invade the port of Roccella Jonica in the Calabrian region of southern Italy on Sunday, November 14, 2021. The Italian Coast Guard rescued Calabria on Sunday morning, at the expense of more than 250 young men and boys, primarily from Egypt. (AP photo / Alessandra Tarantino)

Rome (AP) —The sinking of a boat with more than 30 people this week is the most deadly immigrant tragedy ever in the English Channel.

However, migrant shipwrecks of that size are not uncommon in the waters surrounding the southern borders of Europe.

This year alone, UN officials estimate that 1,600 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, the main gateway to Europe for migrants trying to enter the continent with the help of human smugglers. ..

The death toll is higher than last year, but it’s by no means unique. International Organization for Migration estimates that since 2014, 23,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean on fragile boats and rubber dinghys, and more than 5,000 in 2016. In the same seven years, about 166 people died in the English Channel. channel.

Just last week, 85 people died in two separate incidents as they tried to reach Italy from Libya, said Flavio di Giacomo, an Italian IOM spokesman. Those tragedy were barely noticed in Europe.

“I think it’s a matter of accessibility,” said Di Giacomo. “I think the media attention to what happened between Britain and France is also because it’s new. Europe isn’t used to having it on the continent. Usually it’s on an external boundary. . “

This year, the busiest and deadliest immigrant route to Europe is the Central Mediterranean, where people travel by crowded boats from Libya and Tunisia, and in some cases from Turkey to Italy. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about 60,000 people arrived in Italy by sea this year, and about 1,200 died or disappeared on this trip.

The number of missing persons is an informed estimate from the survivors of the wreck.

Immigrant rescue activists on Thursday said a boat in the Central Mediterranean, with 430 people on board, was taking in water and sought help from European authorities. Another boat operated by Charity Sea-Watch was looking for a safe harbor to unload 463 rescued migrants.

Meanwhile, since last year, traffic has increased on the more dangerous routes of the Atlantic Ocean, where migrants depart from Senegal, Mauritania, or Morocco on simple wooden boats in hopes of reaching the Canary Islands of Spain. Some boats sink not far from the African coast, others disappear further, and even miss the Canary Islands and drift deep into the Atlantic Ocean.

“The route from West Africa is very long and very dangerous,” Dijacomo said.

He said the IOM recorded 900 deaths on the Canary Islands route this year, but the real number could double, “no one pays too much attention.”

This week, more than 400 people were rescued trying to reach the island group.

Human rights groups often criticize the European government for doing nothing more to rescue migrants trying to reach the continent on non-sea-resistant vessels. Italy-led European rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean were curtailed a few years ago, with a focus on training and equipment for the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrant vessels before reaching European waters. .. Critics say Europe is blind to human rights abuses in Libya’s detention centers for immigrants.

Carlotta Sami of Italy’s UNCHR pointed out that 9 out of 10 refugees had fled to neighboring countries and told the EU government that “to reduce the number of people trying to make a very dangerous journey, to refugees. We are calling for a “safe passage”. ” .. “

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Brussels AP writer Lorne Cook contributed to this report.

Follow all AP stories about global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

1,600 Immigrants Lost in Mediterranean Seas This Year | WGN Radio 720

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