From file: Migrants on a rubber dinghy are pictured during a rescue operation, off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea, November 13, 2020. Picture taken November 13, 2020 | Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
From file: Migrants on a rubber dinghy are pictured during a rescue operation, off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea, November 13, 2020. Picture taken November 13, 2020 | Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

A child was among at least five people who drowned at the weekend when a boat carrying about 45 migrants capsized off Libya. More than 700 migrants were intercepted and returned by Libyan coast guards.

A boat carrying at least 45 migrants overturned off the Libyan coast on Sunday, Safa Msehli, a spokesperson for the UN migration agency (IOM), said. The migrants were attempting to reach Europe when the wreck happened. At least five people died, including a child. The 40 survivors were rescued by fishermen and returned to shore, Msehli added.

Meanwhile nine other boats carrying more than 700 people were intercepted Sunday by Libyan coast guard officers. Msehli said the migrants were taken to detention centers, where the IOM believes they are likely to suffer threats to their lives and violations of their rights.

Also read: Mediterranean: Over 800 migrants returned to Libya in 5 days, 11 drown on weekend

There has been an increase in crossings and attempted crossings of the Central Mediterranean Sea from Libya in recent weeks: observers say this is due to calm sea and warm weather. Federico Soda, the head of IOM in Libya, said he was "extremely concerned" about the spike in migrant departures from Libya and "the continuous loss of life."


Earlier in May, at least 11 migrants drowned when a rubber dinghy carrying two dozen people capsized off Libya. A further 130 migrants are believed to have died in April in one of the worst maritime tragedies in years on the Central Mediterranean route.

Around 7,000 Europe-bound migrants have been intercepted and returned to Libya so far this year, according to the IOM. The agency says that those who are returned to Libya are often left at the mercy of armed groups or held in detention centers without adequate food and water.

With AP

 

 

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