A humanitarian NGO has released a haunting image of a dead migrant lodged inside an inflatable ring in the aftermath of a devastating shipwreck on Friday off Libya.
The rubber dinghy believed to have been carrying up to 130 people capsized in rough seas North-East of the Libyan capital Tripoli.
The NGOs Alarm Phone and SOS Mediterranee reported the tragedy and hit out at neighbouring countries for not having rescued the migrants even though the alarm about the boat was raised several hours earlier.
A rescue team member aboard the Ocean Viking said that for more than 24 hours, the NGO tried to keep track of two vessels out at sea.
There was no trace of the first vessel and it is still not known if it returned to land or reached safety.
The Ocean Viking tried to reach the second dinghy as waves up to six metres high were whipped up by the winds, according to testimonies.
In a chilling testimony, SOS Mediterranee team member Alessandro said a search was resumed at dawn, together with three merchant ships, but without coordination or help from any States. On Friday afternoon, a merchant ship spotted the wreck of the dinghy.
If an airplane had crashed in the same area, the navies of half of Europe would have been there, but they were just migrants
"As we approached it, it was floating in a sea of corpses. Literally. There was little left of the boat, and of the people, not even the names are left.
"If an airplane had crashed in the same area, the navies of half of Europe would have been there, but they were just migrants, soil for the Mediterranean cemetery, for whom it is pointless to run, and indeed we were left alone.
"Powerless, we held a minute’s silence, to be echoed on land. Things must change, people must know.”
In a joint statement, United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration warned that others may attempt the dangerous voyage, as the weather improved and the situation in Libya deteriorated.
They noted that at least 300 others have already died trying to reach Europe this year alone.
"This is a significant increase compared to the same period last year when some 150 people drowned or went missing along the same route," they said.
In what has often turned into political ping-pong, EU states have for years disagreed over who should take in migrants rescued at sea and the UNCHR and IOM both urged the international community to do more to stop avoidable deaths.
That included resuming search and rescue operations, coordinating with NGOs rescuing people at sea, ending returns to unsafe ports and establishing a safe disembarkation mechanism, the two organisations said.
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