February 17, 2018
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Over 10,000 Refugees Rescued in 48 Hours During Deadly Mediterranean Crossing

Amnesty International accuses most countries of shirking their responsibilities in midst of global humanitarian crisis

By Nika Knight

Over 10,000 people were rescued within 48 hours—on Monday and Tuesday—from sinking boats and rubber dinghies while attempting the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean into Italy.

bestlocaladvertising72-1And many didn't survive the attempt: AFP reported Wednesday that 28 bodies have been recovered so far, and posted horrific photographs of surviving refugees climbing over corpses to reach rescuers.

The Italian coast guard—which was involved in 70 percent of the rescues—also said Wednesday that three babies were born during the rescue efforts.

This is the latest surge in an ongoing, rising wave of migrations from the north cost of Africa to Italy.

"Earlier this week 6,055 people were rescued over a 24-hour period as the coastguard, navy, and humanitarian groups came to the aid of 32 rubber dinghies, five large wooden boats and two rafts that were spotted 30 miles (48km) north of Libya," the Guardian writes.

The increase in people attempting the deadly sea journey comes as Amnesty International accuses many countries of shirking their responsibilities toward refugees.

In the human rights group's report "Tackling the global refugee crisis: From shirking to sharing responsibility" (pdf), published Monday, the organization notes that most of the world's refugees—21 million people—are housed in only 10 countries.

"Just 10 of the world's 193 countries host more than half its refugees," said Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty. "A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbors to a crisis. That situation is inherently unsustainable, exposing the millions fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq to intolerable misery and suffering."

bestlocaladvertising72-2Indeed, the Guardian notes that "Italy's neighbors to the north—Austria, France and Switzerland—have essentially closed off their borders to new migrants, creating political tensions and forcing Italy to process and possibly relocate asylum seekers on its own."

"It is time for leaders to enter into a serious, constructive debate about how our societies are going to help people forced to leave their homes by war and persecution," Shetty added. "They need to explain why the world can bail out banks, develop new technologies, and fight wars, but cannot find safe homes for 21 million refugees, just 0.3 percent of the world's population."

"The cost of failing to act is that we condemn millions to endure lives of unrelenting misery. The most vulnerable will not survive," the report says. "They will die because some countries took in just a few hundred, leaving others with a million."

- Originally appeared at CommonDreams.org

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