Sierra Leone-flagged Ezadeen vessel, carrying hundreds of migrants, is towed by the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Tyr Sierra Leone-flagged Ezadeen vessel, carrying hundreds of migrants, is towed by the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Tyr

Human traffickers use cargo ships put on autopilot

Human traffickers act more brazen and “barbaric”, amid reports of the use of large cargo ships to smuggle hundreds of migrants to Europe.

The ships carrying hundreds of people are abandoned and left apparently on autopilot to sail towards the Italian coast.

According to reports, the smugglers are acquiring decommissioned cargo ships, recruit crews, pack the ship with migrants and then abandon them at sea, telling them to call the rescue services.

Vincent Cochetel, Director of the UNHCR Europe Bureau, said on Friday that the use of larger cargo ships is a new trend and part of an ongoing and worrying situation that can no longer be ignored by European governments.

He called for concerted action to fight human trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea and thanked the Italian authorities for their response in regards to the latest refugee arrivals.

Cochetel expressed concerns over the phasing out of the Italian Mare Nostrum operation  without a similar European search-and-rescue operation in place to replace it.

More than 170,000 people trying to reach Europe have been plucked from the sea by Italian rescuers in the past 14 months.

But hundreds, and possibly thousands, have perished trying to make the crossing.

By Editorial Team

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