5 June 2018

Africa: Migrants Continue Perilous Journeys to Europe, but Numbers Fall

Photo: le pays
esclavage libye

Tunisia's Defense Ministry says at least 46 migrants have died after their boat sank off the country's southern coast and 67 others were rescued by the coast guard on Sunday.

The rescue operation was ongoing, the ministry said in a statement. The migrants were of Tunisian and other nationalities.

In a separate incident, nine people, including six children, died Sunday after a speedboat carrying 15 refugees sank off the coast of Turkey’s southern province of Antalya, the Turkish coast guard said in a statement.

Reducing the flow of migrants into Italy is one of the aims of the anti-immigrant League party in Italy and its leader Matteo Salvini, who was sworn in as the country’s new interior minister on Friday.

Salvini and his party have promised to block the arrival of boat migrants from Africa and to deport up to 100,000 illegal immigrants per year.

"Italy and Sicily cannot be Europe's refugee camp," he told a crowd of supporters in the port town of Pozzallo, a migration hotspot.

"Nobody will take away my certainty that illegal immigration is a business... and seeing people make money on children who go on to die makes me furious."

Meanwhile, Spain's maritime rescue service said it rescued 240 people, with one person apparently drowning, while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa.

The service said it rescued the migrants from 11 small boats attempting the perilous crossing from African shores to Spain between Saturday and Sunday.

The International Organization for Migration, the U.N. agency for migration, reported last week that 30,300 migrants and refugees entered Europe via sea in the first 147 days of 2018.

The arrivals are at this point in 2018 less than half those seen last year and less than 15 percent of those seen in 2016 at the same point. IOM had reported 69,219 refugees had arrived from January through May in 2017 and 198,346 during the same period in 2016.

IOM said 655 people have lost their lives at sea since the beginning of 2018, at least 1,000 fewer than the recorded deaths in the same period last year.

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