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Up to 245 missing after 2 Mediterranean shipwrecks

Up to 245 missing after 2 Mediterranean shipwrecks”

The final toll of dead and missing from two refugee shipwrecks off Libya at the weekend has risen to 245, the United Nations high commission for refugees (UNHCR) has said.

In the second incident, on Sunday, a woman and six men were rescued by the Libyan coast guard.

About 50 were rescued or disembarked in Sicily on Sunday, but some 82 are feared dead.

According to global organisations, between 800,000 and one million people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, are now in Libya hoping to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

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Mr. Millman said the development is an indication that smugglers' networks are starting to unravel: "The components that smugglers feel they need to conduct this business are getting harder and harder to come by in a place like Libya, and so that would account for some of the violence and some of the robbery". The International Organization for Migration estimates 1,222 people have died making that voyage this year, compared to 966 over the same period in 2016.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is also urging for further efforts to rescue refugees and migrants along the deadly Mediterranean route.

Police said in a statement that the gunman had not been identified, however, they said aerial video showed Libyan suspect Abouzid Nouredine Alhadi had boarded the dinghy from the smugglers' boat and had tried to blend in as another migrant.

So far this year, he said, the Libyan Coast Guard and others have found 171 bodies washed up on Mediterranean shores, from migrant voyages that foundered off shore. Nigerians are the largest nationality of migrants arriving in Italy by sea, followed by Bangladesh, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Gambia, according to the International Organization for Migration. Over 190 migrants lost their life in two shipwrecks.

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Afterwinter storms and cold sea temperatures, IOM spokesman Joel Millman, "there is normally pent-up demand".

A Rome-based IOM spokesman, Flavio Di Giacomo, said in an interview in Tuesday's La Stampa newspaper that there have been recent indications that some migrants have made a decision to flee the harsh conditions in Libya to return to their homelands, renouncing their dream of reaching Europe and safety, although "the majority take the risk of the sea".

Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants are being held in Libyan detention centers after entering the country illegally, an immigration official said on Tuesday.

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