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More than 120 boat refugees feared drowned off Libya

June 20 - 2017 GENEVA
Some 350 migrants and refugees land at the Port of Messina in Sicily, after being rescued in the Mediterranean, May 2016 (Patrick Russ/UNHCR)
Some 350 migrants and refugees land at the Port of Messina in Sicily, after being rescued in the Mediterranean, May 2016 (Patrick Russ/UNHCR)

More than 120 refugees, mostly from Sudan and Nigeria, are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean after a boat sank off the Libyan coast on Friday, UNHCR reported on World Refugee Day.

The incident involved a rubber dinghy that left Libya on 15 June and began taking on water just hours into its journey, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported. “From the Italian coast guard and the four survivors - Sudanese and Nigerian nationals - we understand the boat was carrying at least 133 people. 129 people are missing.”

“Today is World Refugee Day,” UNHCR said on its website. “These incidents are a reminder of the grave dangers that people confront when forced to flee their countries because of war and persecution. Since the beginning of the year, over 77,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. This is among the world’s most dangerous routes – a journey that no one takes lightly.”

The arrivals of migrants from Eritrea, Sudan, and the Gambia in Europe are down from 2016 - even though overall arrivals to Italy by sea have risen - while those from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco, Mali and Guinea are all up, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported last week.

The sea route to Italy attracts the highest number of migrants, followed by Greece, according to the IOM. 1,717 people drowned here since the start of this year.

World Refugee Day

The representative of the UNHCR, Noriko Yoshida, marked World Refugee Day with South Sudanese refugees in El Nimir camp in East Darfur. Over 400,000 South Sudanese people have fled from their country to Sudan since fighting erupted in December 2013.

Yoshida called for greater donor support for refugees in Sudan, specifically for host communities that have extended their limited resources and assistance to new arrivals. She commended the Sudanese government for working closely with UNHCR.


Increase in arrivals by sea to Italy from Sudan (27 November 2016) 

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