U.N. refugee officials have reported that there is a possibility of more than 500 refugees going to Italy may have drowned near Italy and Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. If confirmed, it might well be the biggest tragedy ever that involves migrants and refugees in recent memory.
A team from the Office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) came in contact with 41 survivors who arrived at Kalamata, a town on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. In the statement issued by the Agency, “If confirmed, as many as 500 people may have lost their lives when a large ship went down in the Mediterranean Sea at an unknown location between Libya and Italy.” Mohamed, an Ethiopian who was travelling with the migrants, told the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that he saw his wife and 2-month-old child die at sea. As the boat was going down, all those in the boat drowned and died within minutes. Chief of IOM Athens Mission, Daniel Esdras, grieved over the incident saying that “We await further investigations by authorities to better understand what actually happened and find hopefully evidence against criminal smugglers.”
In the year 2016 alone, more than 25,000 migrants have used the dangerous route to reach Italy from North Africa. UN predicts more refugees and migrants will use the risky way to reach Europe in order to be safe from the ongoing wars. IOM projects more than 800 migrants have lost their lives this year while travelling through this route of Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, 380 migrants have also died in between Greece and Turkey. Last year, more than 1,730 migrants died, while the number has already reached 1,200 this year. After the controversial deal that was signed between EU and Turkey, many migrants do not prefer travelling through Greece anymore. They are risking their lives to reach Italy from Egypt. The 41 survivors from the Kalamata incident include three women, thirty-seven males, and a three-year-old child.