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Migrant exodus from Libya amid warm weather

Migrant exodus from Libya amid warm weather

Flavio di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman in Italy, said the vessels' imminent arrival could be driving a dramatic increase in attempted crossings that saw more than 8,300 people arrested from 55 boats over the Easter weekend.

The U.N. migration agency (IOM) reported last week that 31,993 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through April 9, with over 80 percent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece.

The migrants, many from Nigeria and Senegal with some from Bangladesh, are among an estimated 20,000 held by criminal gangs in irregular detention centers in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Smugglers often pack migrants in flimsy inflatable dinghies, dispatching them to sea to get picked up by rescue ships and other vessels once they reach worldwide waters.

"The smugglers have clearly taken them to sea and pushed them out in the hope and belief that they would be rescued".

A United Nations refugee agency spokeswoman, Carlotta Sami, tweeted on Monday that "rescuers worked incessantly" over Friday, Saturday and Sunday to save those people.

Libyan fishermen found the bodies of 28 illegal migrants who appeared to have died of thirst and hunger after their boat broke down off the coast of Sabratha city, a ministry of interior official said on Tuesday.

European Union patrol vessels in the Mediterranean are putting lives at risk by operating too far from the Libyan coast where migrants are embarking on the perilous voyage to Europe, the head of a rescue charity said today.

Human traffickers use flimsy inflatable rubber dinghies and unseaworthy wooden boats to transfer hapless refugees across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in hope of escaping war and conflict and finding better lives.

Since Saturday, the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) said it has been involved in the "unprecedented" rescue and assistance of nine boats containing as many as 1,800 people. "NGOs have been a great help in terms of filling up that vacuum", he added.

The bodies of more than 70 migrants washed up in a dinghy in Zawiyah earlier this year in what aid agencies said suggested the "deliberate punishment or murder of migrants".

"So there's a full-on economy of trafficking or trading in migrants who think they are going to a better life in Europe and end up effectively in a gulag of exploitation", Doyle said.


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