By Akanimo Sampson
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency, is currently monitoring reports from North Africa and Italy in the wake of the latest Mediterranean shipwreck which occurred off the coast of Lampedusa during the night between Sunday and Monday.
IOM’s Flavio Di Giacomo reported on Monday that a boat departing Tunisia and carrying between 50 and 55 people capsized seven miles from the coast of the Italian island, pointing out that the craft was overloaded and weather conditions in the vicinity were bad.
While he said the migrants departed from Tunisia’s Kerkennah Island on board a wooden boat, authorities have found 22 migrants who survived the disaster, and 13 bodies, all women, recovered by the Italian Coast Guard and Guardia di Finanza.
As of Tuesday morning, 17 migrants remained missing, including more women and at least two children. Among the missing are nationals of the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Guinea Conakry and four Tunisian nationals including three men and one 17-year-old boy.
Migrants reported losing their brothers, sisters, husbands and friends, Di Giacomo reported, adding that one woman in a critical condition has been transferred by helicopter to Palermo hospital.
IOM staffers have provided assistance. According to testimony from survivors gathered by IOM staff at their landing point, their craft was carrying 15 Tunisians as well as migrants coming from a variety of West African countries. The 13 female victims are said to have been from Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
This latest tragedy brings to 1,071 the total number of deaths confirmed on the Mediterranean through 6 October, nearly two thirds of those deaths coming in the waters between North Africa and Italy
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reported Monday that these deaths bring to 15,750 the total number of dead on this route since January 1, 2014. That is approximately ten times the total lost on the Mediterranean’s eastern corridor linking the Middle East to Greece and almost the same multiple of all deaths on the Western route linking North Africa to Spain.
The Missing Migrants Project, also on Monday, released new data concerning deaths to Spain, adding 403 deaths since January 1, 2014 of seaborne migrants seeking to access Spain via Las Canarias islands in the Atlantic Ocean due west of Africa.
So far in 2019, the Missing Migrants Project has recorded 77 deaths on this route, nearly twice those recorded in 2017 and 2018, combined.