In Crisis Situation Report no. 36, the UNOCHA provide an update on the exodus from Libya, in the wake of the February 17 uprising:
The number of people leaving Libya by sea bound in an attempt to reach Europe has risen since the
crisis in Libya began. The majority of these people are third-country nationals (TCNs) from sub-Saharan
Africa desperate to leave the insecurity and uncertainty in Libya. People fleeing are often doing so in
unseaworthy and overloaded vessels. UNHCR has appealed to urgently put in place more reliable and
effective mechanisms for rescue in the Mediterranean. UNHCR has urged states, commercial shipping
companies and others present in the Mediterranean to consider that all boats leaving Libya for Europe
are likely to require assistance.
At least 1,000 people who have fled Libya by boat so far remain unaccounted for.
Early last Friday 6, a boat carrying people fleeing Libya broke up shortly after departing Tripoli. Relatives
of those onboard say the vessel was carrying around 600 people. A senior Somali diplomat in Tripoli
has reported that 16 bodies have been recovered, including two babies. The full death toll is unknown.
Most of those onboard are believed to have been from Sub-Saharan Africa. Hundreds of people are
missing and bodies were seen floating in the sea and washed ashore (some bodies were seen on the
Lampedusa cost). On 25 March, a small boat that had left Tripoli for Italy ran out of fuel and started
drifting. According to survivors who reached Lampedusa, the boat was thrown water and biscuits from a
helicopter. According to reports, 61 of the 72 people on board the boat died of hunger or thirst.
Passengers were expected to operate the boat on their own.
These past days have seen an increase in arrivals across the Mediterranean: five boats arrived on Lampedusa,
carrying close to 2,400 people on the weekend from 6 to 8 May. Most are sub-Saharan Africans, many
of them women and children. All five boats needed rescuing by the Italian coastguard and maritime
police, with one boat running aground close to the Lampedusa shore. The number of people who have
arrived in Italy and Malta from Libya now stands at 12,360, in a total of some 35 boats (11,230 to Italy
and 1,130 to Malta).