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A boat carrying migrants sank off the shore of Lampedusa, a small island close to Sicily, on Thursday. More than 200 passengers are missing, and 94 have already been pronounced dead.
Spokeswoman for the International Migration Organization (IMO), Simona Moscarelli, told the BBC, the boat caught fire when it came close to shore and “so the migrants moved, all of them, to one side of the boat which capsized.” The boat was carrying around 500 people at the time, most of whom are now missing.
The passengers on board were largely migrants from Eritrea. Such mass migration is not uncommon from areas like Africa, and the Middle East. United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, was extremely disturbed with the trend of “migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea."
Unfortunately, such tragedies are not uncommon either. This is not the first shipwreck in the area, and is in fact the second one Italy has seen this week, Amnesty International writes. At least 1,500 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2011. The human rights organization called for European countries to focus more on search-and-rescue operations when such tragedies strike, rather than on closing off borders and preventing immigration.