A total of 200 migrants are believed to have lost their lives attempting to cross the winter waters of the Mediterranean Sea in the first three weeks of 2019 alone, according to data provided by the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Namely, a 117 vulnerable migrants are believed to have died on the Mediterranean last week, and another 83 in the first days of January, according to a previous IOM update.
The news of the second tragedy came along with the rescue of three survivors, two Sudanese nationals and one from The Gambia, who were interviewed by IOM staff Saturday on the island of Lampedusa.
As they reported, the three men were on a dinghy carrying 120 migrants, the majority coming from western African countries. About 40 Sudanese nationals also were onboard, having left the Libyan Port of Garabuli on Thursday night.
After about 10 hours at sea, the dinghy started to take on water and many of its passengers drowned, the survivors informed. Among the people drowned were ten women, one known to be pregnant, and two children, including a 2 month-old toddler.
The three men managed to stay afloat for several hours before being spotted by an Italian Navy patrol plane some 50 miles off the Libyan coast. Subsequently, they were rescued by an Italian Navy helicopter and brought to Lampedusa.
This information comes less than 24 hours after news was confirmed of a shipwreck off Spain in which 53 African migrants are believed to have drowned. There was one surviving witness of that tragedy, which occurred the night of 17 January.
The NGO ship Sea Watch rescued another 47 migrants, while two days ago 68 migrants were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard and brought to Lampedusa. All of these migrants had left from Libya bound for Europe.
IOM Libya Saturday also reported at least two search and rescue missions carried out by Lybian units which returned dozens of men, women and children to shore. IOM is also seeking information on those survivors.