Migrant Lives Feared Lost off Libya coast

Migrants Mediterranean

Migrants Mediterranean

On Sunday, the Libyan navy said it rescued 272 migrants.

At least eight migrants died and 86 others were rescued Saturday from a smugglers' rubber dinghy after it starting sinking in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, the Italian coast guard said. All of the survivors, including 19 women and 17 children, were taken to a naval base in the capital, Tripoli, and were later handed over to Libya's anti-migration authority.

The two other migrant boats were found off Zawiya, west of Tripoli.

Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish humanitarian group that is one of the few NGOs which still operate their own rescue ships outside Libyan waters, said some of the migrants had spent hours in the water before being saved. "I feel so disappointed and I don't want to go to prison".

Lawlessness in the North African country has helped it become the main springboard for often deadly migrant journeys bound to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. The smugglers routinely crowd much more than 100 people into motorized rubber dinghies created to hold far fewer, aiming to maximize profits on the route from lawless Libya toward southern Europe.

IOM reported on Tuesday that 81 Mediterranean Sea deaths of migrants or refugees were recorded in the first eight days of the year - five in Western Mediterranean waters off Spain and Morocco, the rest between Italy and Libya.

There has been a surge in attempted crossings in recent days, with dozens more migrants feared to have drowned over the weekend.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday that "barely a week into the New Year there already are reports of close to 200 migrants or refugees dead or missing on the Central Mediterranean route".

Arrivals by boat in Italy accounted for most of the 2017 arrivals: 119,310 in total, down by a third compared to the previous year, the Italian Interior Ministry announced.

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