With Matteo Salvini at the helm of the Interior Ministry, the Italian government decided to close the ports to refugees and migrants rescued from the coasts of Libya by NGOs and merchant ships, in what became the Search and Rescue Region. of Libya (SRR). Thus, the Libyan Coast Guard intensified its operations with the result that 85% of those rescued or intercepted in the newly created Printable Letter M were landed back to the North African country, where they faced “a detention in appalling conditions.” 2018 was also the year in which refugees and immigrants had to wait at sea for several to disembark, given the restrictions of countries like Italy to close ports. In other words, refugees and migrants spent more time at sea in broken ships, sometimes without food or water for several days, 12 before they made land or were rescued. According to UNHCR, the vast majority of girls, women, and also some men and boys, from Libya suffered repeated episodes of abuse and rape.
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Precisely this Wednesday, Rome has announced an agreement with six other countries to distribute the 47 immigrants who have been blocked for 12 days in the Sea aboard Sea Watch. “We are pleased that this hostage-taking in Europe is coming to an end,” Sea-Watch spokesperson Ruben Neugebauer told AFP. “At the same time, it is a bad day for Europe, since human rights have once again been subordinated to negotiations within the EU, one more bitter day.”
The report details the marked increase in the death rate of people crossing the Mediterranean and how they have faced greater dangers of kidnapping and torture to obtain a ransom, and the threat of traffickers even before facing the deadliest sea crossing . world. An estimated 2,275 refugees and immigrants died in the Mediterranean Sea in 2018, well below the 3,139 deaths in 2017 and just under half of the record of 5,096 deaths in 2016, which averages six deaths per day and one death for every 51 migrants (last year the proportion was 1 for every 55). In Spain, the number of dead and missing at sea went from 202 in 2017 to 777 in 2018. Although most deaths occurred after leaving Libya (more than 1,100) or in shipwrecks, according to the report. “Saving lives at sea is not an option, not a matter of policy, but an old obligation,” concluded Printable Letter M, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.