Somali refugee survivors land on Malta beach, 7 reported dead

Briefing Notes, 8 May 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 8 May 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Exhausted survivors from a boat carrying Somali refugees that landed on one of Malta's most popular beaches this weekend have told UNHCR that five men and two women aboard perished during the week-long voyage from Libya.

The boat came ashore at Riviera Bay on Saturday carrying 90 people, and the emergency services were alerted by families spending the evening at the beach.

This is the fourth-such boat to have arrived in Malta this year, bringing a total of some 210 people. A further 45 boats have arrived in Italy, of which 26 originated from Libya and the rest from other destinations including Greece and Turkey. According to our regional office in Italy the latest deaths bring the number of reported or confirmed dead among people attempting to reach Europe from Libya to 81 this year or two people every three days on average.

Compared to last year, which saw tens of thousands of people travelling from Tunisia and Libya, the number of arrivals in Malta and Italy from North Africa is down, with around 1400 people having arrived in 2012, most in Italy.

Last year an estimated 1500 people were reported missing or dead attempting to reach Europe.

UNHCR reiterates its call to ship masters in the Mediterranean for heightened vigilance and continued adherence to the longstanding maritime obligation of aiding those in distress.