Monday, May 30, 2016

As Many as 900 Migrants Killed at Sea This Week
By Daniel Politi
Slate Magazine

Migrants are seen on a capsizing boat before a rescue operation by Italian navy ships off the coast of Libya in this handout picture on May 25, 2016. Marina Militare/Handout via REUTERS

At least 700 refugees are believed to have been killed in numerous shipwrecks across the Mediterranean this week, according to the United Nations high Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Doctors Without Borders estimated that the number of dead was as high as 900 although it emphasized on Twitter that “we will never know exact numbers.” Around 14,000 people were rescued since Monday and there have been at least three large shipwrecks. The loss of life appears to add up to the deadliest week in the Mediterranean since April 2015, when as many as 800 people are believed to have been killed in a single shipwreck.

"It really looks like that in the last period the situation is really worsening in the last week, if the news is confirmed," Giovanna Di Benedetto, a Save the Children spokeswoman in Italy, tells the Associated Press.

The deadliest shipwreck of the week took place on Thurday, when a large fishing boat overturned. Although initial estimates put the number of dead in that shipwreck at 400, the U.N. refugee agency says the real number is likely closer to 550. The agency is also estimating that around 100 people died when a boat capsized Wednesday off the coast of Libya and some 45 people were killed on Friday with an unknown number still missing.

More than 13,000 people have entered Italy through the sea since Monday, reports the Los Angeles Times, which notes that government authorities were caught off guard by the sudden surge in migrants. “This week has been the most intense this year and one of the busiest ever,” said Save the Children’s Di Benedetto.

On Friday, the International Organization for Migration said an estimated 194,611 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea so far this year, while around 1,475 died during the journey. 

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