Dozens missing at sea: Red Cross warns more lives will be lost unless humanity is at the heart of migration response

Published: 2 May 2016

Tripoli / Rome/ Budapest, 1 May 2016: Days after at least 84 people were reported missing in the Mediterranean, more than 200 people have been rescued in waters of North Africa.

The survivors of another boat tragedy were brought to Sicily where Italian Red Cross teams provided emergency medical care, food, water and psychological support.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) regional director for Europe, Simon Missiri, said: “People fleeing hunger, poverty and violence deserve protection and to be treated with dignity – death should not be an inevitable consequence to striving to find a better, safer life.

“As warmer weather and calmer seas approach, we can expect more people to attempt this crossing. We must work together to focus on providing safe routes for people fleeing their homes and seeking sanctuary.””

On 30 April, a team from the Italian Red Cross on the island of Lampedusa provided medical care, food and water to 26 survivors of a boat that sank off the Libyan coast amid reports that at least 84 people are still missing.

President of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca said:  “Our teams are working across shorelines and ports in Italy, on the frontline of this on-going tragedy, supporting survivors left acutely traumatized by the stress and terror of these journeys.

“Last year, thousands died attempting this journey – if we don’t work together to take action, people will continue to die.”

Along the migration trail, National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies are working to respond urgently with food, shelter and health services.

The Libyan Red Crescent is among the few organizations in the country providing support for migrants and their families. This includes emergency supplies, medical care and psychosocial support. Branches also work to reconnect rescued migrants with loved ones and provide support to those who are trying to return to their home countries.

Volunteers along the country’s coastline also have the difficult task of retrieving the bodies of people who have died attempting to make the crossing, in an effort to provide some dignity to those who would otherwise be easily forgotten.

Libyan Red Crescent spokesman, Mohammed Al Mosrati, said: “Unfortunately, as weather conditions are improving, the Libyan shores have come to witness more and more boat tragedies.

Last month alone, the Red Crescent provided aid and medical care to more than 250 rescued migrants.”

More than 27,000 people have arrived in Europe from Libya to Italy this year so far – suggesting the lethal crossing from northern Africa will again become a primary route for migrants. In 2015, more than 150,000 people made the same journey. The Italian Red Cross has teams across the country’s ports and reception centres, on hand to provide vital support to rescued migrants.

For further information, please contact:

In Tripoli

Dr. Osama Sultan, head of international relations, Libyan Red Crescent
E-mail: | Tel: +218 92 346 8462

Mohammed Mustafa Al Mosrati, communications coordinator, Libyan Red Crescent
E-mail: | Mobile: +218 92 5807394 or +218 91 7925570 (Arabic only)

In Rome:

Laura Bastianetto, spokesperson, Italian Red Cross
E-mail:| Mobile: +39 3207 979 485 Twitter: @LBastianetto

In Beirut:

Stephen Ryan, communication coordinator - Middle East and North Africa, IFRC
E-mail: | Twitter: @stiofanoriain | Mobile: +961 71 802 779

In Budapest

Nichola Jones, emergency communications delegate - Europe, IFRC
E-mail: | Twitter: @nicjones81 | Mobile: +36 70 430 6506

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, team leader – public communications, IFRC
E-mail: | Twitter: @BenoistC | Mobile: +41 79 213 2413

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.