Italy is looking more closely at the role of privately-funded rescue operations that have been plucking migrants from the seas off Libya and into the possibility that there may be collusion between smugglers and some of the rescuers. A Sicilian prosecutor has told the news agency AFP that the cost and sophistication of the rescue operations had attracted attention. “There is an abnormal proliferation of NGOs [Non-Government Organisations] operating “ said Carmelo Zuccaro, Catania’s prosecutor, “I’m not talking about the big, prestigious organisations, but all the small ones that seem to have sophisticated hardware, such as drones” Zuccaro said that in 2013 his office had begun its own monitoring of migrant trafficking. Because of their expensive equipment and its interest in their sources of funding, it had now started to check NGOs for any links with the smugglers. It seems clear that the European border security force Frontex has been watching the movement of rescue vessels just as it has been seeking to monitor the trafficking gangs that have been launching migrants from the coast of western Libya. Such observation will have included the interception of radio traffic.
“The number of migrant deaths and disappearances recorded by IOM in 2016 has reached 5,238. This means that 951 or 20 percent more people have lost their lives while migrating compared with the same period in 2015. “ Internation Organization for Migration described in the last report about migrants.
This number is mainly composed of deaths or missing migrants who have tried to cross Mediterranean Sea “where an estimated 3,930 people have died or gone missing in 2016, while trying to reach Europe. Meanwhile, some 332,046 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. Some 169,524 people have arrived in Greece and 157,049 in Italy. “
However, it’s an international issue, which also concerns Latin America: “This latest grim total means that nearly 13 people per day have died in 2016. The bodies of over 60 percent of those who died have not been recovered – IOM’s report added -. Elsewhere, there have been increases in migrant deaths in Latin America, where at least 500 people have died while migrating. At least 87 Hondurans (including 10 minors) were killed while migrating through Mexico between 1 January and 23 October, 2016. The causes of death included dehydration, train and car accidents, suffocation, homicide and natural causes. Significantly, the number of deaths recorded in Central America has increased by 92 percent from the same period in 2015. “