500 confirmed dead in latest tragedy in the Mediterranean

It has been confirmed that as many as 500 refugees may have died in an unconfirmed location somewhere between Libya and Italy when their vessel sunk last week. A group of 41 survivors were rescued off of Greece on April 16th by a merchant ship and taken to Kalamata.

“The testimonies we gathered are heartbreaking. We await further investigations by authorities to better understand what actually happened and find hopefully evidence against criminal smugglers.”” ~ IOM Athens Chief of Mission Daniel Esdras in the Migrant Report.

This incident comes within days of the one year anniversary of the single biggest disaster on record, which occurred last year on April 18th, 2015, when a boat carrying 850 people capsized and sunk 85 miles off Libya. The vessel went down within minutes, taking with it hundreds of people stuck inside. Two weeks later, MOAS launched its first operation in the Central Mediterranean Sea for 2015.

This recent tragedy brings the total number of people who have perished in the Mediterranean in 2016 up to 1,261 refugees, according to data from the UNHCR.

“The next few weeks could be fatal to hundreds more who will try their luck in the Strait of Sicily.” ~Regina Catrambone, Co-founder of MOAS

With the Central Mediterranean already seeing a 300% increase in activity this year, and “summer” crossings starting earlier than ever, thousands of men, women and children could die in the days ahead if we don’t act quickly and decisively.

Lives are at stake. As MOAS prepares for the busy summer months ahead, you can help make sure we are where we are needed most.