Saturday 3 December 2016

Mary Fitzgerald: As temperatures rise, so too will the refugee death toll

Mary Fitzgerald

Published 02/04/2016 | 02:30

German Navy sailors help a migrant to board on the German combat supply ship ‘Frankfurt am Main’ during Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya last Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
German Navy sailors help a migrant to board on the German combat supply ship ‘Frankfurt am Main’ during Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya last Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

This is the time of year when the bodies begin to wash up on the sandy beaches of western Libya.

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During winter, rough weather conditions make the Mediterranean crossing from Libya more difficult for those desperate for a new life in Europe. The flow never stops completely, and with the approach of better spring weather and calmer seas, more rickety boats crammed with migrants will set off.

Many such vessels capsize en route - their human cargo returned, bloated and lifeless, to the picturesque shores along Libya's western flank. Almost 100 migrants may have drowned off Libya on their way to Italy this week after their dinghy sank, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). They said two vessels, one with 140 on board and the other carrying an estimated 120 people, left the Libyan coast the day before. The larger dinghy was intercepted by Libyan naval authorities, but the other capsized.

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