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UNHCR: UP TO 250 REFUGEES FEARED DROWNED OFF LIBYAN COAST

March 24, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

Migrant ship



Up to 250 refugees are feared drowned off the Libyan coast, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said late Thursday.

On Twitter, UNHCR Italia spokeswoman Carlotta Sami spoke of "a tragedy" and "a collective failure."

Earlier, two private rescue organizations said two rubber boats had gone down off the Libyan coast. A spokeswoman for the Pro Activa Open Arms organization confirmed five deaths.

Each of the vessels could have carried up to 120 people, she added. There was no sign of the others, who had apparently simply "vanished."

The German aid organization Jugend Rettet said that initially one body was found Thursday. Only five bodies had been recovered so far, a spokeswoman told reporters.

The fatalities were males between the ages of 16 and 25 who had presumably drowned. There was little hope of finding survivors, the Jugend Rettet spokeswoman added.

Around 20,000 migrants have already arrived in Italy this year, with around 520 dying during the dangerous crossing.

Interior ministers from across Europe and representatives of North African countries met in Rome this week to discuss the refugee crisis.

-dpa



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