As the refugee crisis in the Middle East shows no sign of abating, smugglers who prey on refugees with promises of getting them into the EU have begun posting ads for perilous Mediterranean boat journeys on Facebook, the Guardian found. One such ad read “The trip is on Saturday, from Mersin to Italy, on a merchant ship 110 metres long, equipped with food, water, life jackets and medicine.” A picture of a cargo ship accompanied the ad. Rides were being sold for $4,000 per person.
It’s not clear how such an ad made it past Facebook’s ad policy team, but the ad has now been removed and Facebook has confirmed to Business Insider that it is investigating the origins of the ad. The journey across the Mediterranean on shoddy and overcrowded ships run by people smugglers have lead to over 600 dead and missing already in 2016. In 2015 the dead and missing from these types of perilous journeys totaled almost 3,800, according to the Missing Migrant Project.