Nearly 100 migrants are reported to have died in the Mediterranean off Libya since Sunday, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday, citing unconfirmed reports from the Libyan Red Crescent.
The figures were based on two sightings of bodies found near Libya’s coast: 85 corpses in one area and 10 in another, IOM said in a statement. A total of 557,899 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe across the sea this year, and 2,987 people have died attempting the crossing, it said.
Meanwhile, more than 1,800 migrants were rescued Monday from six vessels found adrift in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Libya, Italy’s coast guard said.
A total of 1,830 people were brought ashore in six different operations to save passengers in four stricken boats and two rubber dinghies, the coast guard said.
Three Italian vessels and one ship each from Britain and Ireland, which are taking part in the EU Navfor Med mission, were involved in the rescue effort.
From Wednesday, ships operating under the aegis of EU Navfor Med will have new powers to tackle the people smugglers who pack migrants and refugees into overcrowded boats.
Members of the force will have the right to board, search, seize and divert vessels found in international waters that are suspected of being used for smuggling.
In the meantime, The EU said Tuesday it would step up resettling refugees now in Turkey and help reinforce Turkish coastguard patrols under a crisis plan agreed during talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara will meanwhile put “priority” on setting up six new partially EU-funded reception centers for refugees under the plan published by the European Commission following Erdogan’s visit to Brussels on Monday.
“Work on a structured EU-wide approach to resettlement shall be stepped up,” the commission said.
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter