There was some positive news Tuesday from the International Organization for Migration, as officials announced they had not seen a single migrant death on the Mediterranean Sea in the past three weeks.
That’s a far cry from the 689 deaths recorded in August 2015, and the news comes as the United Nations migration agency met with Libyan authorities in Tunis to develop a coordinated effort to aid in rescues.
“Saving lives remains our highest priority,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. “As it is also a legal obligation, it is important to help the Libyan Coast Guard improve their capacities to save lives and respond in a better way to the needs of the migrants that they rescue.”
Key issues include better documentation and registration procedures to help deliver humanitarian aid, and physical improvements so that migrants have access to shaded areas, water, toilets and showers and other facilities.
The upgrades are under construction at three of the six planned disembarkation sites for rescued migrants, and are needed especially by those who have made long journeys across the Sahara Desert.
The Libyan authorities also are getting new lifesaving gear, including life vests, first aid supplies and personal protective equipment for rescuers.
IOM said it is supplying computers and other equipment to Libyan Coast Guard officers, and providing training on how to use them for documenting sea rescues. So far, 30 people have participated in the classes.
Image: IOM/Francesco Malavolta file