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AT LEAST 132 deaths have been reported in the central Mediterranean to a refuge distress hotline this month.
In its monthly report released today, the activist network Alarm Phone details how on multiple occasions the European coastal authorities failed to respond to its reports of refugee boats in distress and how the EU-supported Libyan coastguard failed to launch rescue missions.
Approximately 37 people died in two separate shipwrecks off the coast of Libya on November 11 alone.
Alarm Phone says that it had been in contact with both boats while they were at sea and had alerted the authorities to the distress cases, but there was no response. Six people from these shipwrecks were saved by fishermen.
The Libyan coastguard did send out a ship to look for one of the boats, the report says, but only managed to do so 24 hours after Alarm Phone raised its first alert.
The next day around 74 more people died in another shipwreck near the Libya coastal city of al-Khoms.
“All these deaths are the results of shipwrecks, many of which could have been avoided if only the authorities responded adequately to the distress calls,” Alarm Phone said in the report.
“Death at sea is tragic. But there is nothing more tragic than knowing that the people could have been rescued and there was a deliberate attempt to let them die.
“It is not the sea that is killing people, it is the violent border regime that criminalises migration, hinders rescue and decides to let people die.
“It is not the sea that is killing people: it is Europe and those who want to keep it a fortress.”
Seven NGO rescue ships are still barred from returning to sea by the Italian and other European authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship, which earlier this month saved the lives of 259 people in three rescue missions and disembarked them on the Italian island of Sicily, remains at anchor in quarantine.
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