Fleeing violence and dire poverty, at least 10,000 immigrants have made it to the Shores of Italy this week according to the Italian Coast Guard (ICG). The people are mostly Nigerians and Gambians.
On Wednesday, according to CNN, 117 immigrants were rescued from a tugboat that was barely afloat. The rescued were in poor shape, some even lacking shoes. One woman was pregnant. A total of 8,480 immigrants have been rescued this year according to the ICG.
This follows 400 would-be immigrants who are presumed lost at sea, after their boat capsized Wednesday.The ICG refused to confirm the likely deaths of the 400, but stated that they are taking the report, “seriously.”
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 900 people have died in these attempted journeys. Approximately 2,200 died last year, and 22,000 have perished since 2,000, according to the IOM.
Those numbers are likely to rise, as more seek the relative haven of Europe, fleeing crushing poverty, a solidification of ISIS in their home countries, and seemingly omnipresent war.
Most travel to Tunisia or Libya, following routes that land them on the southern shores of Italy. The would-be immigrants pay human traffickers what amounts to a fortune to make the treacherous journey. With Italy’s economy in turmoil, many will head for better opportunities in France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
There seems little choice for many of these people. According to CNN, the immigrants relate their fears in their home countries, and their hopes for Europe.
“I was scared,” 25-year-old Al-Haji from Gambia told me about the journey from Libya. “I was taking a big risk. Either I enter Europe or I die.”
The rescued immigrants were taken to a holding center for processing, before being released into Italy.