At least 74 migrants drowned following a shipwreck off Libya’s western coast Thursday, the latest in a series of tragedies involving at least eight other shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean since October 1, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The boat was reported to be carrying over 120 people, including women and children, off the coast of Khums, Libya, the IOM said in a statement, adding that 47 survivors had been brought to shore by the coast guard and fishermen and that 31 bodies had been retrieved while the search for victims continued.
So far in 2020, at least 900 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores, some due to delays in rescue, the IOM said.
More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya so far this year, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations, detention, abuse, trafficking and exploitation, as documented by the United Nations,” the IOM said.
The IOM stressed that Libya is not a safe port for rescued migrants, and reiterated its call on the international community and the European Union to “take urgent and concrete action to end the cycle of return and exploitation.”
Following the fall of the former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been plagued by a state of insecurity and chaos that prompts thousands of illegal immigrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea toward Europe from the country.