The Italian Guardia di Finanza rescued 5 Eritrean migrants near Lampedusa. The migrants had apparently been lost at sea for three weeks. The survivors said that smugglers arranged for their departure from Libya on 28 July with insufficient petrol and water. Their boat became disabled and they drifted for 20 days before being rescued by Italian authorities. The survivors say there were about 73 other migrants in the boat and that their bodies were put into the sea after their deaths. A German patrol helicopter working with Frontex reportedly has observed seven bodies floating in the water. No efforts have been made to recover the bodies because they are located within the Libyan search and rescue area. The survivors are being held at the Lampedusa Contrada Imbriacola “reception centre”. The survivors say that several boats passed near them, but no one rescued them until the Italian boat arrived.
There is confusion about the circumstances under which an Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat encountered the migrant boat before the Italians rescued the survivors. The Maltese AFM patrol boat may have provided some assistance to the migrants before leaving them. The Maltese AFM has said that the migrants appeared to be in good condition when found.
UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini condemned the apparent refusal by other unknown boats to rescue the migrants. She said “it appears that what is prevailing is fear of providing assistance over the duty of rescuing whoever is found in conditions of difficulty at sea.”
Click here for video of survivors.