Over 20 migrants feared drowned off Libyan coast: International Organization for Migration

In this file photo taken on August 1, 2017 a member of Aquarius rescue ship run by NGO SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres holds a girl after she was recovered with others by Santa Lucia merchant ship in the Mediterranean Sea, 20 nautic miles from the Libyan coast. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Over 20 migrants feared drowned off Libyan coast: International Organization for Migration

ROME: More than 20 African migrants were missing and feared drowned Tuesday after scores of people seeking to reach Italy were rescued from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.
A Cypriot merchant ship picked up 72 migrants in international waters on Saturday, 30 of whom had left Libya on a wooden boat and 42 others from a rubber dinghy.
They were then handed over to the Aquarius humanitarian ship chartered by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
The IOM said that after arriving at the port of Pozzallo in Sicily on Tuesday, the survivors from the first group told them that 21 people traveling with them had been lost at sea.
“People fell in the water when people panicked overnight and the boat almost capsized,” a young Gambian migrant told SOS Mediterranee.
“There were five women on board, four drowned, one of whom was a pregnant woman. My brother died.”
Those in the second group said that 90 people were rescued by the Libyan coast guard and taken back to Libya.
“We do not know exactly how it happened but families have been separated and we are trying to see how to bring them back together,” Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for IOM in Italy, told AFP.
Italy’s interior ministry said 5,300 migrants have arrived in the country this year, 66 percent fewer than over the same period of 2017.
That follows a sharp decline since last summer after a controversial agreement was struck with Libya that has drawn fierce criticism due to the often dire conditions migrants face when returned to the north African country.
At least 337 migrants have died or disappeared off the coast of Libya since the beginning of the year, the IOM said.


Turkey targets military over alleged Gulen links

Updated 14 December 2018
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Turkey targets military over alleged Gulen links

  • The Istanbul public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 219 soldiers on active duty
  • They are believed to have ties to the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities on Friday ordered the arrest of over 200 military personnel in new raids against suspects linked to the attempted coup in 2016, state media reported.
The Istanbul public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 219 soldiers on active duty including four colonels and five lieutenant colonels, state news agency Anadolu said.
Istanbul police launched an operation to capture the suspects on Friday morning.
They are believed to have ties to the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally turned foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara accuses Gulen of being behind the failed coup but he strongly denies any links.
In Ankara, the capital’s public prosecutor issued arrest warrants on Friday for 48 people, mainly working in the arms industry, also over alleged links to Gulen.
Turkey refers to the group as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” but followers insist they have peaceful goals of promoting Islam and secular education.
Over 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed putsch in a purge lambasted by human rights activists and Ankara’s Western allies.
Nearly 130,000 public sector workers have been sacked.
Last week, dozens of people including airforce personnel were detained for suspected links to coup-plotters in nationwide operations.
Turkish officials insist the raids are necessary to cleanse state institutions of the “virus” of infiltration by the Gulen movement.