By AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli

MORE and more migrants are dying at sea trying to cross into Europe, with least 820 confirmed dead or
missing in the Central Mediterranean this year.

The deaths include dozens of fatalities in two shipwrecks reported this past week.

This confirms the Central Mediterranean as the world’s deadliest sea border.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) disclosed the figures this past weekend as it appealed to Italian authorities to release of its ship, the Geo Barents, from administrative detention so it could urgently resume lifesaving search and rescue operations.

The vessel has been detained since the beginning of July in the eastern port of Augusta.

MSF disputes the Italian authorities’ statement regarding the ship’s unsuitability to carry out systematic search and rescue activities.

“International law does not stipulate specific international classification for humanitarian rescue ships,” argued Frauke Ossig, MSF’s representative for search and rescue.

He said while humanitarian rescue nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were filling the void left by states’ disengagement from providing search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean, it was
unacceptable that NGOs were prevented from saving lives.

“The death toll is increasing by the day and lives continue to be needlessly lost in the Mediterranean,” Ossig said.

Most migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean access the sea route through the volatile Libya.

Italy was particularly affected by the European migrant crisis.

Since 2013, over 700 000 migrants have landed in Italy, mainly sub-Saharan Africans. – CAJ News