At least 74 migrants have lost their lives when the boat in which they intended to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe from the Libyan city of Khoms was wrecked, according to sources from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). A total of 120 people were traveling in the boat chartered by local mafias, including several women and minors. The Libyan coastguard services have managed to recover a total of 31 bodies, which have been deposited on a beach in Khoms, while the 47 survivors have been rescued by a fishing boat, which transferred them to port, despite the fact that Libya is considered a country “Not sure” where they received IOM assistance.
Once on land, they have received first aid from IOM members before being returned to detention and internment centers, which, according to the various NGOs working on the ground, lack decent conditions and are on numerous occasions managed by some of the numerous armed militias that exist in the country.
This is the third shipwreck in the past week off the coast of Libya, a country mired in chaos and civil war. On Tuesday, at least 13 people disappeared in international waters when the inflatable boat that had left a beach near the Libyan capital sank a few hours earlier. According to the IOM, a body linked to the UN, another 11 people were rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken back to port, where they received first aid before being questioned and transferred to detention centers.
On Wednesday, six more migrants lost their lives when the boat in which they also tried to flee capsized after having paid around 1,000 euros to the different mafias that operate along the west coast of Libya, a territory under the control of the Government of Libya. National Agreement supported by the UN in Tripoli (GNA) since the failed reconciliation plan of 2015. Both shipwrecks coincided with the rescue of another 85 people by the humanitarian ship chartered by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, the only one currently present in the central Mediterranean, considered the deadliest route in the world. In less than two days, the crew of the Spanish humanitarian ship carried out three rescues and are now carrying more than 250 survivors and six bodies, including a baby, on board.
According to IOM data, in the last week alone, more than a thousand migrants have been intercepted on the high seas by Libyan patrol boats and returned to Libya, despite the fact that it is considered “an unsafe country.” More than 1,000 people, including 776 women and 638 minors, have been intercepted and returned to Libya in the 11 months of this year, while 236 have perished at sea and 360 have been reported missing. Since the beginning of October, around 1,900 people have been intercepted and returned, while around 800 have managed to reach Italy. “The increasing loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of States to take decisive action and re-deploy the dedicated and much needed search and rescue capacity at the world’s deadliest sea crossing,” said Federico Soda , head of the IOM mission in Libya.