Some 275 refugees and migrants waiting to disembark from a tug in the port of Pozzalo after being rescued a few days earlier. Only about 50 people were reportedly rescued at Pozzallo, Sicily.
More than 43,000 people have reached Italy from Libya so far this year, the United Nations refugee agency says, many of them facing violence and intimidation during the unsafe journey. "Favourable weather between Friday and Sunday brought thousands of migrants attempting a sea crossing to escape the violence and abuse in Libya".
She said the likelihood of shipwreck was increasing as smugglers put more and more people on boats, adding the quality of vessels was decreasing.
According to IOM figures, 181,000 refugees arrived in Italy in 2016.
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IOM Spokesperson Joel Millman, also put the number of migrants and refugees killed while trying to cross the straits to at least 1,309 in 2017.
Police in Sicily said in a statement that numerous survivors recounted that among those who drowned was one of the smugglers who had been steering the boat. It has slaughtered migrants on the high seas, sunk boats, attacked humanitarian groups attempting to aid the refugees and profited off of collaboration with smugglers.
The European Union's statistical agency says that more than 63,000 children traveling without adult company applied for asylum a year ago, more than half of them Afghan and Syrian nationals. Just last month, reports about migrants being sold into slavery and the rescue boats carrying refugees on the Libyan Mediterranean route colluding with smugglers came about showing the horrendous situations faced by refugees and migrants in the region. The state of the detention centres in Libya have been repeatedly criticised, and many are privately run by smugglers with little no access for the worldwide community. He later insisted he was not referring to the large NGOs.
The country's coastguard picked up seven migrants who said they had been on an overloaded dinghy packed with 170 people, which sank on Sunday.