The conditions for African migrants trying to get to Europe are becoming more perilous by the day.
Whereas we had earlier already reported that the European Union had cut a deal with the Libyan coastguard to try and get smuggling boats returned, there were reports last week that a lucrative ‘slave market’ has now been setup in several Libyan port cities for those African migrants that didn’t have any money left to pay for the final crossing.
And this weekend, when 31 migrants died and 200 were rescued by the Libyan navy, sharks could be seen circling around the boats, clearly lured by the greater number of human flesh in these waters recently.
According to various Italian media, large blue sharks swam around the immigrant boats.
Libyan patrol boat commander Mr Nasser Al-Ghammoudi admitted: “When we arrived in the area, off the town of Garabulli, one dinghy was semi-submerged and still had 44 people clinging on to it, whom we saved.”
“There were lots of bodies all around and we saw there were four or five sharks swimming among them, large blue sharks, a very aggressive species.”
“When we brought the bodies on board, we noticed that some of them had been bitten, so it's possible that among the missing some may have been eaten.”
Mr Al-Ghammoudi added that one of the vessels was almost completely under water when the coastguard arrived: “We looked for other survivors for more than five hours. We were able to rescue one woman after we had heard her shouts.’
The UN said that the number immigrant arrivals from Africa at Italian ports in the previous three months stands at 21,666, which is the lowest total registered in four years for that period of the year.
The downward trend has been attributed to the closing of the Balkan routes, the boosting of the Libyan coastguard and the move to close the Libyan southern border, as well as measures to try and stem the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa through classic transit states such as Niger and Sudan.