Up to 61 people feared dead after boat sinks off the coast of Libya

Up to 61 people are feared dead after boat sinks off the coast of Libya in latest migrant tragedy

  • About 86 migrants were thought to be onboard when waves swamped the vessel

Up to 61 migrants are feared to be dead after their boat sank off Libya’s coast in the latest migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said there were about 86 migrants on board the vessel, according to survivors, when it left from Zuwara, on Libya’s northwest coast. 

A ‘large number of migrants’, most of which included women and children, are now missing and presumed to have died after high waves swamped the vessel, the IOM’s Libya office said in a statement to AFP.

Libya and Tunisia are principal departure points for migrants risking dangerous sea voyages in hopes of reaching Europe, via Italy.

Many of the victims were from Nigeria, Gambia and other African countries, the IOM office said, adding that 25 people were rescued and transferred to a Libyan detention centre.

Migrants from Eritrea, Libya and Sudan sail a wooden boat before being assisted by aid workers, about 30 miles north of Libya, in June 

Migrants stand on a dinghy boat off the coast of Libya in October 2019

An IOM team ‘provided medical support’ and the survivors are all in good condition, the IOM office said.

Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesperson, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that more than 2,250 people died this year on the central Mediterranean migrant route, a ‘dramatic figure which demonstrates that unfortunately not enough is being done to save lives at sea.’

The Adriana, a fishing boat loaded with 750 people en route from Libya to Italy, went down in international waters off southwest Greece on June 14.

According to survivors, the ship was carrying mainly Syrians, Pakistanis and Egyptians. Only 104 survived and 82 bodies were recovered.

More than 153,000 migrants arrived in Italy this year from Tunisia and Libya, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni won elections last year after vowing to stop illegal migration.

More than a decade of violence in Libya since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising helped turn the country into a fertile ground for human traffickers who have been accused of abuses ranging from extortion to slavery.

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