Regional Categories Africa IOM: At least 24 people drowned off Libya coast

IOM: At least 24 people drowned off Libya coast

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The UN migration agency has said that at least 24 people have drowned or are dead in the sea off the coast of Libya.

A boat carrying refugees on their way to Europe capsized in the Mediterranean Sea today leaving its passengers missing and presumed dead.

Yesterday, Libya’s coast guard intercepted three boats, one of which had capsized, an IOM spokeswoman told AP.

Whilst at least 45 survivors were returned to shore, they found two bodies. The survivors told them 22 others were missing and were taken to a detention centre in Tripoli.

Most of them were from Egypt and Morocco.

Last month, more than 350 people died in the central Mediterranean, attempting to make the crossing to Europe.

READ: UN peacekeepers rescue 36 migrants off Lebanon coast

At least 45 people from one boat drowned, making it the biggest number of deaths on a single vessel off the Libyan coast.

Also in August, 48 bodies washed ashore on the Libya coast. Since 2014 20,000 people have died on the journey across the Mediterranean.

Libya is a major launchpad for refugees attempting to get to Europe. Smugglers have taken advantage of the vacuum which followed the 2011 Libyan Spring and the killing of Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2016 and the rise of far-right populist parties with an anti-immigrant agenda, EU member states have collaborated with the Libya coast guard to return these refugees to Libya.

The following year, the number of people reaching Italy reduced but the number of people dying in the sea rose.

Libya’s coast guard has sabotaged rescue efforts by NGOs and volunteer rescue boats and has been accused of being part of smuggling networks.

Human Rights Watch has said that Libya’s coast guard has facilitated the detention of tens of thousands of men, women and children in dire conditions where they face abuse such as forced labour and torture.

In August street artist Banksy bought a rescue boat to save refugees in distress trying to get to Europe from North Africa.

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