People in a dinghy off the coast of Libya with a ship in the background | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/O.Calvo
People in a dinghy off the coast of Libya with a ship in the background | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/O.Calvo

Several people have died following another shipwreck along the Libyan coast over the weekend. The incident took place near the capital, Tripoli. The exact number of victims is so far unknown; however, according to initial reports, there were three bodies washed up on the beach near the town of Al-Zawiya, about 50 kilometers west of Tripoli.

There were at least 19 survivors who were picked up by a fishing boat, according to early reports. The survivors were reportedly taken to an unofficial detention center, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Earlier last week in a separate incident, the bodies of two African migrants and a 5-month-old boy who had drowned in a shipwreck over the previous weekend were found in the same area.

Read more: The Mediterranean: Do calm waters hide an ugly secret?

Quarantine on a boat

In a separate development, 67 migrants who had been saved by the “Mare Jonio” private rescued mission last Friday, were allowed to disembark on Italian soil. At the same time, 211 migrants intercepted by the “Sea-Watch 3” rescue mission were instructed to head for a quarantining vessel docked at Porto Empedocle in southern Italy. They were told that after two weeks of isolation, they would be allowed on Italian soil -- despite the fact that COVID-19 tests were carried out on all passengers.

Sea-Watch added in a statement that it did not welcome the fact that the migrants would technically still be quarantined at sea as long as they are outside Porto Empedocle. The organization street that the global pandemic should not be used as a political excuse to refuse people their human rights and demanded that quarantine measures should take place on land.

However, the rescue organization added that they would “accept” this solution as it enabled them to return to the sea and save further lives.

Read more: Sea-Watch 3, Mare Jonio land in Sicily with 278 migrantsPhoto courtesy of Sea Watch showing the private rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 off the Libyan Coast December 19 2018  Photo EPACHRIS GRODOTZKISEA-WATCHORGLawless terrain

Libya remains a major transit point for African and Arab migrants trying to get to Europe. Since the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, human traffickers have used the lack of rule of law in many parts of the country to smuggle people there.

However, many don’t make it across to Europe. In addition to being held for months or years in appalling conditions in Libya, facing the brutal threats of abuse, extortion and slavery daily, those that do attempt to cross the Mediterranean often fail during many attempts, as the European Union has partnered with Libya’s coast guard to stop the flow of migrants.

Read more: Members of group sexually 'exploiting Nigerian women' arrested

Those who do make it past various maritime checkpoints face the real risk of drowning while traveling on dinghies and other small vessels that are not seaworthy. The IOM said in March 2020 that its estimated death toll among migrants who had tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea had passed the “grim milestone” of 20,000 deaths since 2014.

According to recent trends, the number of migrants trying to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean is once more on the rise.

With epd, AP


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