Italian police say they have arrested 15 Muslim migrants who were accused of throwing 12 Christians overboard on a boat heading to Italy.
Authorities believe that the Christian victims, said to be from Ghana and Nigeria, are all dead.
In a separate incident, more than 40 people lost their lives after another migrant boat sank between Italy and Libya.
The numbers of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean have increased drastically in the last couple of months and around 10,000 have been rescued in the past few days.
More than 500 people from Middle East and Africa have lost their lives trying to cross the dangerous waters since the start of the year. Earlier this week, 400 people were believed to have drowned when their boat turned upside down.
Arrested and Charged
The 15 Muslim migrants involved in the incident with Christians were arrested in the Sicilian city of Palermo and charged with “multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate”.
These heartless individuals, who are from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea, were among 105 migrants traveling in a small boat that left Libya two days ago.
Witnesses told police how it all got started and resulted in Christians being thrown overboard. Some of the survivors formed human chains to avoid being thrown in the waters by the group.
This isn’t the only case, on Thursday; the Italian navy rescued four survivors, a Ghanaian, two Nigerians, and a man from Niger. They said their boat had sunk after leaving Libya with 45 people on board.
The International Organization for Migrants (IOM) believes that the other 41 in that boat drowned.
The four survivors were taken to Sicily along with 600 other migrants trying to make the dangerous crossing in various boats and rafts.
Earlier on Thursday Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the nation had “not had an adequate response from the EU” about the crisis and what to do to solve the situation that has claimed many lives.
The EU quickly responded with Natasha Bertaud, a European Commission spokeswoman, who said the organization had no “silver bullet” for the problem.
The weather has made it easier to cross the last few weeks, and the number of people making the 300 mile journey is increasing. The bad part about this is that the vessels provided by smugglers are not good enough to withstand the trip, especially when they’re overcrowded.
Around €2.8m (£2m) a month goes to Operation Triton, the border control crew that operates off the Italian coast. They’re in charge of monitoring the Mediterranean, but apparently it is not enough, says commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud. “We have neither the money nor the political support to launch a European border guard system,” she told reporters.
Triton has not had the best response to the search and rescue operations. They were supposed to replace the Mare Nostrum rescue operation, which costs three times as much.
The Italian government is looking for financial help from EU, but will they get it?