A massive influx of refuges and migrants from war-torn and impoverished African nations have been making their way across the Mediterranean from Libya to Sicily. According to the Italian Coast Guard, more than 10,000 people have made the desperate journey on rickety, often un-sea-worthy boats since last weekend.
CNN reports that as many as 400 migrants have been lost at sea.
The tragedy adds to the mounting death toll among those fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
So far this year as many as 900 have lost their lives. Last year at least 3,200 died making the journey. Since 2000, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), almost 22,000 people have died fleeing across the Mediterranean.
12 Christian refuges lost their lives during a particularly harrowing trip — not due to their boat capsizing – but through Islamic violence.
The IB Times reports:
Italian police have arrested 15 Muslim immigrants in Palermo, for allegedly having thrown Christian refugees off the rubber boat that was taking them to Italy after a fight for “religious reasons”, according to media reports.
Those arrested – from Mali, Guinea and Ivory Coast – were part of a group of 100 that were rescued off the Libyan coast by the Italian coastguard.
After their arrival in Palermo, the other migrants informed police that 12 Christian refugees were hurled off the boat and killed after a religious row with the 15 Muslims that were later arrested. Among the arrested is a 17-year-old, according to Repubblica newspaper.