EU says Mediterranean migrant deaths are ‘homicides’

Illustrative photo of migrant boat

BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 16 – Michele Cercone, the spokesman for European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, on Tuesday said the spate of migrant disasters in the Mediterranean were “homicides, not accidents.” The comment came after reports that 800 migrants have died or gone missing at sea while trying to reach Italy from North Africa since Friday.

In one case, some 500 migrants went missing and are feared drowned after people smugglers sank a boat carrying them last week 300 miles off the coast of Malta, according to two Palestinian survivors.

Cercone said the EU will reinforce its measures against human traffickers. The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Monday that more than 2,500 people have drowned or gone missing attempting the Mediterranean crossing this year alone, including over 2,200 since the start of June.

Some 130,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, more than double the 60,000 recorded in 2013, the UNHCR said. Italy has received over 118,000 arrivals, most of them rescued at sea by Italy under its naval operation, Mare Nostrum…