Volunteers in the sky watch over migrant rescues by sea

National and World News

African migrants sit without life vests on an overcrowded blue wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and the Italian island of Lampedusa, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2021, as seen from aboard the humanitarian aircraft Seabird. The Seabird, owned and operated by the German NGO Sea-Watch, seeks to monitor human rights violations at sea and assist in migrant rescues. (AP Photo/Renata Brito)

ABOARD THE SEABIRD (AP) — A humanitarian effort seeks to monitor human rights violations and assist in the rescue of migrants fleeing Libya to Europe by boat on the Mediterranean Sea.

The German non-governmental organization known as Sea-Watch conducts the operation. Even if they spot a boat full of migrants in distress, often they get little help from European vessels in the area.

Nearly 23,000 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014, according to the United Nations’ migration agency.

Despite the risks, many migrants say they’d rather die trying to reach Europe than be returned to Libya where, upon disembarkation, they are placed in detention centers and often subjected to relentless abuse.

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