From file: The Libyan coast guard operates with assistance from the European Union to apprehend migrants attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean | Photo: France 24
From file: The Libyan coast guard operates with assistance from the European Union to apprehend migrants attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean | Photo: France 24

Another migrant shipwreck off Libya has claimed at least one life, with 23 others presumed drowned. The boat capsized on Monday, a day after five people died when another boat overturned.

The body of one person was retrieved from waters off the Libyan coast on Monday, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported. UNHCR spokesperson Tarik Argaz said at least 23 others are believed to have drowned.

Forty (according to some reports, 42) survivors were returned to the shore and taken to the capital, Tripoli, by Libyan coast guards. The UNHCR and the International Rescue Committee were treating some people for burns caused by spills of fuel and salt water, Argaz told InfoMigrants. Two people needed to be transferred to hospital for additional care, he said.


Most of the survivors were from East African countries. They reported that their engine stopped working a few hours after their departure, Argaz said.

All of the survivors were taken to a detention center managed by Libyan authorities in Tripoli, according to Argaz. "To our knowledge, no further search and rescue operation has been triggered," he told InfoMigrants in an email.

"We have reiterated our call to the international community to come up with a mechanism to put an end to these tragedies, including the reactivation of a search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean and not to return refugees and migrants to unsafe countries like Libya," said Argaz.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the UN migration agency IOM, Safa Msehli, tweeted that the bodies of migrants from the latest shipwrecks had been washing ashore in Libya since Monday.

Continuing loss of life

The UN migration agency said there has been an increase in crossings and attempted crossings of the Central Mediterranean Sea from Libya in recent weeks. Despite calm sea and warm weather, there has been "a continuous loss of life," said the IOM chief in Libya, Federico Soda, who tweeted that he was "extremely concerned."

On Sunday, a boat carrying at least 45 migrants overturned: at least five people died, including a child. The 40 survivors were rescued by fishermen and returned to shore.

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.

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

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

 

More articles

Webpack App