News in Brief 4 November 2016 (AM)

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Migrants arriving on Italy's Lampedusa Island after crossing the Mediterranean on a dilapidated boat. Photo: UNHCR/F. Noy

Mediterranean deaths spike as people smugglers change tactics

A recent spike in the number of people dying while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe has been blamed on a ruthless new tactic by smugglers.

An estimated 240 migrants went missing and are presumed dead after two shipwrecks on Wednesday in stretch of water between Libya and Italy.

According to survivors' accounts, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that desperate travellers are being told to board flimsy boats in Libya because the country's coastguard is set to step up its efforts to bring people back to shore.

Here's IOM spokesperson Itayi Viriri:

"The survivors are saying that the smugglers who are putting them on these unseaworthy vessels are telling them that because the Libyan coastguard is being trained to, you know to have a better capacity in in search and rescue, it means that you know, you have to get on these boats now before the Libyans have capacity to stop you. And the fear factor being here that the people getting on these boats to go to Europe do not want to go back to Libya."

Latest data from the IOM shows that more than 4,200 people have died on the Libya to Europe sea route in 2016 – that's 725 more migrants than over the same period last year.

Mosul "going from house to house" in search of children to defend Mosul

ISIL militants have been recruiting boys as young as nine from villages around Mosul and killing deserters as the Iraqi army and its allies move closer to the extremists' stronghold, the UN said Friday.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the militants had been going from house to house in their hunt for child recruits.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani has the details:

"What we do know is that they've been – ISIL – has been forcing residents from Hamam al-Alil city for example to hand in, to surrender all children who are aged at least nine or 10, to the group, and apparently they've also been using loudspeakers mounted on the back of pick-ups or the back of vehicles and threatening severe punishment for families that do not comply with their order…they've been knocking on people's doors and asking for their boys, specifically."

The UN agency has also received reports of mass killings by ISIL.

In one incident, ISIL is said to have killed 50 of its own militants in the Ghazlani military base in Mosul city on Monday, for alleged desertion.

The UN human rights office also says that it has received "credible reports" that 180 people were killed on Wednesday in Kokjali town in eastern Mosul, and possibly up to another 200 people were killed in Mosul city.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2’29″

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