Summary On the evening of 18 April a boat carrying an estimated 800 migrants capsized about 180 km south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Twenty eight survivors were pulled out of the water and these have already arrived in Catania. The rest of the migrants are feared dead though only 24 bodies have been recovered. This incident represents the largest loss of lives of its kind on the Mediterranean Sea and comes less than a week after another 400 people had also drowned off the shores of southern Italy on 13 April.
In recent years, hundreds and thousands of migrants and refugees lost their lives in similar circumstances in their attempt to seek a safe haven and a better future. The latest tragedy at sea represents the highest number of deaths registered at one time.
The Italian Red Cross for many years now has been at the frontline of the humanitarian response to the needs of the migrants and refugees. In this latest crisis, the National Society activated its Psychosocial Support Service (PSS) and relief teams, as well as its Restoring Family Links unit, and works in close cooperation with the Italian authorities. In anticipation of the growing number of migrants arriving in the country, the Italian Red Cross approached the International Federation on 20 April 2015 with the request to consider the launch of DREF or an emergency appeal in support of the National Society’s humanitarian response to the needs of the newly arrived migrants.
Following this request, the IFRC Secretariat`s Europe Zone Office has assigned its Disaster Management Coordinator to work with the Italian Red Cross on assessing the emergency requirements and on formulating proposals for further actions.