At least 700 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea over the past week as three boats carrying migrants from several African countries capsized. All separate incidents, the three boats had left the Libyan coast and were heading toward Italy.
The horrific incidents are the latest in a long line of shipwrecks over the past several years as more and more people attempt to flee poverty, tyranny, and war in Africa and the Middle East in search for a better life in Europe.
Details of the three tragedies to begin to surface. According to the Washington Post, one of the boats in question was an engineless vessel being towed by a fishing boat. It is reported that when the vessel began to take on water, the captain of the fishing boat ordered that it be cut off and left to sink. Of the 600 people who were on that vessel, only a few dozen survived.
The number of people attempting this perilous and dangerous journey is expected to rise as weather conditions improve through the summer and the water gets warmer. “This is the beginning of the peak season,” the United Nation’s refugee agency spokesman Federico Fossi said.
Vatican Radio reported that at least 15,000 people were rescued and brought to Italian shores since May 23.
Approximately 3,800 people died or disappeared last making the crossing over the Mediterranean Sea, according to reports by the UN Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The toll for this year currently stands at over 2,000.
The UNHCR has called on European nations to take in more asylum seekers. Despite this, economic factors, fear of terrorism, and domestic politics have played a major role in European countries implementing stricter measures and closing their borders to more potential immigrants.
“It is very much needed to open some legal way for those who have right to asylum to arrive into Europe otherwise, they will continue to get into these really flimsy boats,” UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said.