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Boat tragedy underlines dangers facing migrants

The loss of more lives in the Mediterranean underlines the appalling risks migrants are taking in a desperate bid to flee their home countries.

Many people are feared drowned after a fishing boat carrying more than 600 passengers capsized around 25 miles off the coast of Libya.

Irish Navy vessel LE Niamh was one of the first on the scene following distress calls and was able to rescue hundreds of people from the sea.

Italian naval vessels, a Medecine Frontiers ship and helicopters were also involved in the operation to save as many passengers as possible.

Thankfully, a large number were brought to safety but bodies were also recovered and others are missing.

This tragedy comes just three months after 800 migrants died when their boat overturned in the Mediterranean, an incident which led to demands for a more effective international response to this crisis.

The Irish Navy and others have played their part in rescuing many people in recent weeks but tragically the death toll continues to climb.

Such a catastrophic loss of life should add some much needed perspective to the plight of refugees stranded at Calais on the coast of France.

Of course there needs to be order restored to ensure the safety of the migrants and also the truck drivers and others using the Channel port.

But people living in terrible conditions who have already risked so much to get this far, need to know their individual cases will be properly and speedily assessed.

A strong dose of compassion needs to be applied to refugees who have fled conflict and oppression in search of a better place to live and work.

The terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean will not stop people fleeing Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

What is required is an international solution which properly addresses the wider migrant issue.

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