Picture used for illustrative purpose. File
The UN migration agency said Tuesday that a boat carrying migrants bound for Europe capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, leaving at least two dozen people drowned or missing and presumed dead, the latest shipwreck off the North African country.
Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, said that Libya’s coast guard intercepted three boats on Monday, and one of them had capsized.
She said the coast guard retrieved two bodies, and survivors reported 22 others were missing and presumed dead.
At least 45 survivors on the three boats were returned to the shore. All migrants were men, with a majority from Egypt and Morocco, she said. Survivors and other intercepted migrants were taken to a detention center in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Msehli said.
"This new tragedy signals yet again the need for increased search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean. Instead, we are seeing restrictions on NGOs and long, unnecessary stand-offs,” Msehli said.
The shipwreck was the latest maritime disaster involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Msehli said last month more than 350 migrants died in the central Mediterranean this year.
In August, a boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized leaving at least 45 people drowned or missing and presumed dead, marking the largest number of fatalities in a single shipwreck off the coast of the North African country.
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project said that since mid-August, when four shipwrecks were reported in the central Mediterranean, 48 bodies have washed ashore at Libyan coasts. It said at least 54 other people may have died at sea in those tragedies.
Most migrants make the perilous journey in ill-equipped and unsafe rubber boats. The IOM said in March that its estimated death toll among migrants who tried to cross the Mediterranean passed the "grim milestone” of 20,000 deaths since 2014.
In recent years, the European Union has partnered with the coast guard and other Libyan forces to stop the flow of migrants and thousands have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya.
Rights groups say those efforts have left migrants at the mercy of brutal armed groups or confined in squalid and overcrowded detention centers that lack adequate food and water.
The EU agreed earlier this year to end an anti-migrant smuggler operation involving only surveillance aircraft and instead deploy military ships to concentrate on upholding a widely flouted UN arms embargo that’s considered key to winding down Libya’s relentless war.
The United Nations (UN) urged governments, businesses and others on Tuesday to “reboot” the world’s response to refugees as the number of people fleeing their homes rises along with hostility to migrants.
With a go-ahead from the US Supreme Court, the Trump administration on Thursday began enforcing a radical new rule that would deny asylum to nearly all migrants arriving at the southern border
All the migrants have been detained since March 1, just days after Turkey said it was opening its borders to the millions of migrants on its soil.
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