More than 60 feared dead as migrant vessel capsizes on route to Europe from Libya

More than 2,250 people have lost their lives in central part of Mediterranean this year

Arpan Rai
Sunday 17 December 2023 04:20
<p>File image: Migrants from Eritrea, Libya and Sudan are crowded in the hold of a wooden boat before being assisted by aid workers</p>

File image: Migrants from Eritrea, Libya and Sudan are crowded in the hold of a wooden boat before being assisted by aid workers

More than 60 people are feared dead after a ship carrying migrants, including women and children, capsized after leaving Libya, the International Organization of Migrants said on Sunday.

“Sixty-one migrants including women and children drowned following a tragic shipwreck off Libya. According to the survivors, the boat with around 86 people left the Libyan shores from Zwara,” the UN agency said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The central Mediterranean continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes, it added.

Most of the victims who perished on Saturday were from Nigeria, Gambia and other African nations. Around 25 survivors have been transferred to a Libyan detention centre and are receiving medical support.

The northern Africa country serves as the main exit point for migrants looking to cross the Mediterranean in a perilous journey on poorly maintained boats and enter Europe, providing land and sea routes which see thousands of deaths of migrants every year. Italy is the final destination for migrants leaving Libya.

More than 2,250 people have lost their lives in the central part of the Mediterranean this year, said an IOM spokesperson for the region. “A dramatic number which unfortunately demonstrates that not enough is being done to save lives at sea,” spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said on X.

Around 84 per cent of those who perished or drowned along the sea routes remain unidentified, leaving desperate families in search of answers, the agency said earlier this year.

In a similar tragedy in June this year, at least 78 people died and another 100 were rescued after their attempt to cross the sea failed and their fishing boat sank off southern Greece.

The death toll of migrants this year is close to the highest ever seen on record in 2016 when more than 3,100 migrants died on the route, drowning or suffocating in overcrowded holds. The year is believed to be the deadliest ever year for refugees trying to reach Europe.

At least 529 migrants were reported dead and 848 others missing off Libya last year, according to the the IOM. More than 24,680 people were intercepted by the Libyan coastguard as they tried to leave, and brought back.

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