Boat migrants to Europe top 50,000

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A boat carrying sub-Saharan African migrant workers arrives in Lampedusa from Tripoli. Thousands of migrants have made the perilous journey. © Kate Thomas/IRIN

The number of migrants who have crossed by boat from North Africa to Europe in 2014 has exceeded 50,000, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

It follows the arrival of almost 5,500 people in Sicily over the weekend.

Operations are regularly launched in the Mediterranean Sea to rescue people who are travelling on over-crowded boats.

The most recent rescues included 200 migrants picked up in international waters off Malta by a US naval vessel and another 107 picked up by a Maltese merchant ship.

Chris Lom of the IOM has made this call for international action.

“This kind of desperation migration is something that governments need to address because it encourages the worst sort of criminality among traffickers and smugglers who make a living from exploiting these people, exploiting their desperation. IOM is actually calling on particularly the European Union countries to take the lead in this issue. What it wants is a very high level debate on these migratory flows, that will actually ensure a dialogue between the countries of destination, the countries of transit and the countries of origin.”  (38″)

The IOM says that at least 700 migrants died from drowning on the boat crossing to Italy in 2013.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations

Duration:  1’27″



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