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80+ still missing after refugee boat sank off Libya coast: IOM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this handout videograb released by the Italian Coast Guard refugees arrive in the port of Lampedusa following a rescue operation off the coast of Sicily, April 5, 2015. (AFP Photo)

More than 80 people are still missing after a boat transporting 110 refugees sank off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea, says a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"According to testimonies gathered by International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Lampedusa, 84 people were missing" from the boat which sank on Friday, Flavio Di Giacomo, who is the IOM’s Rome spokesman, said in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday.

He said so far 26 people have been rescued.

On April 28, Giacomo said 1,400 refugees had been rescued over the weekend. The IOM spokesman also stated that 237 of the refugees were brought to Lampedusa.

Meanwhile, the IOM’s Greece headquarters reported that 108 arrivals were registered on April 27 in Greece. For 2016, the IOM Athens reports arrivals of 154,661 refugees. The total for the period from January 1, 2015 through April 27, 2016, now stands at 1,008,311.

The IOM says over 183,010 refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain, until April 27. The latest number of fatalities from the perilous voyage stands at 1,244.

Rescue attempts in the Mediterranean often have deadly outcomes as the rescuers fail to handle desperate asylum seekers who try to get on board rescue ships that arrive to help them, the IOM says.

In this handout video capture released by the Italian Coast Guard on April 30, 2016, refugees arrive at Lampedusa harbor after a rescue operation at sea, off the coast of Libya. (AFP photo)

UN reaction to refugee crisis

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has slammed European leaders for the “increasingly restrictive” measures imposed on refugees arriving in the continent.

“I am concerned that European countries are now adopting increasingly-restrictive immigration and refugee policies,” Ban said at the Austrian parliament on April 28.

Ban also said he was “alarmed by the growing xenophobia” regarding the refugees in Europe.

“Such policies negatively affect the obligation of member states under international humanitarian law and European law,” Ban said.

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