A number of children and pregnant women were among the 240 refugees who drowned not far from the Libyan coast on Wednesday while attempting to reach Europe, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced on Friday.
GENEVA (Sputnik) — According to UNICEF representative Helena Rodriguez on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where the 29 survivors were brought, those who managed to escape the shipwreck were in difficult conditions, while others had sustained severe burns from the boat's engine fuel.
UNICEF noted that most of the shipwreck victims were from Senegal, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
Thousands of undocumented migrants from the Middle East and North Africa are fleeing their home countries to Europe in a bid to escape violence and poverty.
The majority of them cross the Mediterranean Sea and arrive in the European Union using southern EU nations as transit points. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), about 333,000 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean in 2016, while more than 3,900 migrants died or went missing while trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.