CAIRO: A rubber boat carrying dozens of migrants heading to Europe capsized off the coast of Libya on Wednesday, killing at least 55 people, including women and children, according to the UN migration agency. It was the latest tragedy in this area of the Mediterranean Sea, which is a major migration route.
The disaster occurred on Tuesday, according to the International Organization for Migration. The boat was carrying at least 60 migrants and had set sail from Garabouli, a seaside hamlet east of Tripoli, Libya’s capital.
According to the agency, five migrants survived the shipwreck and were rescued by the Libyan coast guard. It was unclear what happened to the ship right away.
According to Safa Msehli, an IOM spokesperson, the boat capsized shortly after departing Garabouli. She stated that the Libyan coast guard had recovered the dead of nine adults and a kid so far.
According to Msehli, the five survivors include four adults — three Pakistanis and one Egyptian — and a Syrian youngster.
This was the latest catastrophe in the central Mediterranean Sea, a major migration route. According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 537 individuals have drowned or gone missing in migrant catastrophes in the Mediterranean near Libya this year, while over 4,300 have been apprehended and restored to shore.
The IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reported earlier this month that the first quarter of this year was the bloodiest in the Central Mediterranean since 2017, with at least 441 recorded deaths.
That figure, however, is likely “an undercount of the true number of lives lost,” according to the agency, which added that it was still investigating numerous more undocumented incidents in which the fate of more than 300 persons onboard remained unknown.
According to the IOM, at least 529 migrants died and 848 went missing off the coast of Libya in 2022, while over 24,680 were caught and returned to the chaos-stricken North African country.
Libya has recently emerged as the primary transit route for migrants from Africa and the Middle East attempting to reach Europe. Following a NATO-backed revolt that deposed and murdered longtime tyrant Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, the oil-rich country descended into turmoil.
Human traffickers have profited from Libya’s upheaval in recent years, transporting migrants through the country’s lengthy borders with six countries. The migrants are crammed into ill-equipped vessels, such as rubber boats, and embark on perilous sea crossings.
Those who are detected and returned to Libya are imprisoned in government-run detention institutions that are riddled with abuses such as forced labor, beatings, rapes, and torture — acts that, according to UN-commissioned investigators, amount to crimes against humanity.
Before migrants are allowed to leave Libya on traffickers’ boats, they are frequently subjected to abuse in order to extract money from their families.