The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Human smuggling: Observers concerned at sight of larger migrant vessels

Sunday, 12 July 2020, 10:30 Last update: about 22 days ago

The human smuggling trade in the Mediterranean is in full swing, with observers expressing concern at the recent sight of larger-than-usual migrant boats.

The vessel in the photo above – the largest seen in recent weeks – is believed to have been carrying up to 300 people.

Migrant boats usually carry 70 to a hundred people, but the trend seems to be changing, observers said.

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“It shows how notorious the human smugglers are and how they are willing to put hundreds of people at risk,” they said.

This particular vessel ended up in Lampedusa which, according to reports, received over 700 migrants over the past couple of days. Italy has taken in some 2,000 migrants over the past month, while Malta took in 80 migrants.

One source said the recent developments show how important it is for the EU to work with Libya to stop the booming human smuggling trade.

The UNHCR says over 5,000 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya since the beginning of the year. This method is often criticised by human rights groups, since the war-torn north African state is not considered to be a safe country.

Others, however, argue that fighting the human smugglers and breaking up their ‘business model’ is the most effective way to tackle the issue.

It is understood that the Libyan authorities, despite the pressures they are facing, have stepped up the game against these traffickers after recent talks with the Maltese government.

It is understood that around 2,000 migrants were returned to Libya since 1 June.

 

 

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