Lampedusa (Italy), March 30 (IANS/AKI) A total of 146 African migrants were feared drowned in a shipwreck in the Mediterranean from which there was only one survivor, the International Organisation for Migration said on Wednesday.
"146 migrants went missing at sea while travelling on a dinghy headed to Italy. Only 1 survivor: a Gambian guy brought last night to Lampedusa," tweeted IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo.
The 16-year-old Gambian survivor told rescuers that the dinghy had left the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha two days earlier 147 sub-Saharan Africans on board, including five children and some pregnant women.
Migrant arrivals to Italy are over 50 percent higher this year than in the same period of last year and nearly 600 migrants have died attempting the crossing from North Africa, IOM estimates.
Over 22,000 migrants have reached Italy this year among them at least 3,000 unaccompanied minors.
More than 25,800 unaccompanied children arrived in Italy by sea last year, more than twice as many as 2015, according to Save the Children.
Italy's parliament on Wednesday approved a law aimed at protecting unaccompanied minors in a move welcomed by charities, Premier Paolo Gentiloni, the Catholic Church and the national guarantor for children and adolescents.
The law is the first of its kind in Europe and outlines comprehensive standards of care for unaccompanied migrant children arriving in Italy, including a strict ban on turning them back at the border.