UNHCR shocked by boat tragedy off Lampedusa

Press Releases, 3 October 2013

The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres expresses his shock at today's boat tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa, which so far is reported to have claimed 82 lives.

Mr. Guterres commended the swift action taken by the Italian coast guard to save lives. At the same time, he expressed his dismay at a rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.

Of the estimated 500 passengers on the boat, believed to be Eritreans, only 147 have been rescued so far. The boat, which originated from Libya, caught fire half a mile from the coast.

UNHCR is actively engaging with countries in the region to provide effective alternatives for people resorting to taking these dangerous journeys so they don't have to risk their lives.

This is the second boat disaster this week off Italy's coast. 13 men drowned off the Southern coast of Italy on Monday when they attempted to swim ashore.

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