Friday Nov 13, 2020
At least 74 people have drowned to death after a Europe-bound ship broke down off the coast of Libya, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) disclosed Thursday evening.
Per the agency, the boat was reportedly carrying more than 120 people, including women and children, when it sank off the coast of the Libyan port of Al Khums.
The Libyan coastguard, along with the help of fishermen, rescued 47 people. The bodies of 31 individuals have so far been recovered, while a search for other victims' bodies is underway.
This week, 19 more people, including two children, lost their lives after two boats capsized in the Central Mediterranean. During three rescue operations, 200 people were saved by an NGO vessel, the only one operating on the route.
According to the European Union, migrants and asylum seekers use the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Europe irregularly. It is considered one of the most dangerous routes, accounting for more than 88 per cent of all migrant deaths.
“The mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of states to take decisive action to redeploy much needed, dedicated Search and Rescue capacity in the deadliest sea-crossing in the world,” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission.
“We have long called for a change in the evidently unworkable approach to Libya and the Mediterranean, including ending returns to the country and establishing a clear disembarkation mechanism followed by solidarity from other states. Thousands of vulnerable people continue to pay the price for inaction both at sea and on land.”
The agency said that in 2020, at least 900 people have drowned in the Mediterranean in a bid to escape from the war-torn country and reach European shores for asylum.
According to IOM, more than 11,000 people have been returned to Libya by European nations, putting migrants at ‘risk of facing human rights violations, detention, abuse, trafficking and exploitation.’