News / Europe

Migrant Boat Carrying Hundreds Sinks South of Sicily

FILE - Migrants wait to disembark an Italian Navy ship in the port of Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy, May 2, 2014.
FILE - Migrants wait to disembark an Italian Navy ship in the port of Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy, May 2, 2014.
Reuters
Italian naval and coast guard vessels recovered 14 bodies and rescued around 200 people after a migrant boat sank in the sea between Libya and southern Sicily, authorities said on Monday, a day after dozens were drowned in a similar incident.

Italy has struggled for decades with a stream of migrants traveling in small, unsafe boats from North Africa to the islet of Lampedusa, midway between Tunisia and Sicily. The influx of migrants has grown since the Arab Spring upheavals of 2011 and the protracted civil war in Syria.

An Italian navy statement said two naval and two coast guard patrol boats and a vessel from the Guardia di Finanza customs police had joined the rescue operation on Monday and medical assistance was being provided to survivors.

It was unclear how many other survivors or bodies might remain in the water, with some Italian media reports saying the boat may have been carrying as many as 400 people when it sank some 60 miles off the Libyan coast.

On Sunday, at least 40 people died and 51 others were rescued after a boat carrying migrants mostly from sub-Saharan Africa sank off Libya's coast east of Tripoli.

Hundreds of migrants were drowned in two separate disasters last year that prompted the Italian government to step up air and marine patrols of the seas south of Sicily.

Well over 25,000 migrants have reached Italy in the first few months of this year, with the collapse of order in large parts of Libya leaving authorities struggling to combat the groups that control the illegal migrant traffic.

"There has been an unexpected wave of illegal immigration these days and we do not know the reasons why this has happened yet," said Libyan Navy spokesman Col. Ayoub Qassem.

With less than two weeks to go before European parliamentary elections, the issue of immigration has become a hot political topic, with Italian politicians repeating longstanding calls for other countries in Europe to do more to help.

"There needs to be urgent action by the European Union to open reception camps managed directly by the United Nations for refugees in Libya," Khalid Chaouki, an immigration specialist from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party.

However, Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party repeated its call for the Mare Nostrum naval task force set up last year to be scrapped, saying it encouraged people smugglers.

"The Mare Nostrum operation is false charity, Russian roulette disguised as a humanitarian operation," said Gianluca Pini, a lawmaker from the party.

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid