Authorities face a "sad paradox" as smugglers overload dinghies, says the European border and coast guard agency Frontex.
Europe has been sending more rescue vessels to prevent migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean. Yet the number of people dying en route from Libya to Italy has hit a record high, as smugglers pack ever more people onto unseaworthy boats.
It’s a “sad paradox” and the trend is unlikely to change this year, the European border and coast guard agency Frontex said on Wednesday. In its report “Risk analysis for 2017,” the agency said smugglers have grown more bold and reckless.
— Frontex (@Frontex) February 15, 2017
“The number of migrants now on very small dinghies or fishing boats has increased, on average there are 160 migrants this year while in 2015 there was approximately 100 migrants per boat,” said Fabrice Leggeri, the agency’s executive director.
Frontex expects as many migrants will cross from Libya this year as last, when more than 180,000 reached Italian shores – but more than 4,500 people drowned along the way.
“Opening up legal routes to work would reduce number of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean” https://t.co/AgEBCkXn7v
— Mixed Migration Hub (@MixMigrationHub) February 15, 2017