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A migrant waits to disembark from a coast guard vessel after having been rescued in the Mediterranean A migrant waits to disembark from a coast guard vessel after having been rescued in the Mediterranean 

Dozens of migrants drown in shipwreck off Libyan coast

At least 57 people drowned on Monday after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast near Khums in the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean where more than 1,100 men, women and children have lost their lives this year.

By Linda Bordoni

Authorities said bodies have not been recovered from the shipwreck, but survivors of the latest Mediterranean migration tragedy included migrants from Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia.

The International Organization for Migration said that "According to survivors brought to shore by fishermen and the coast guard, at least 20 women and two children were among those who drowned."

The migrants, most of them from West Africa, had departed from Khums in Libya in a tiny boat in the hope of reaching Europe.

An IOM spokesperson noted that "Despite an increase in arrivals in Europe, there is no crisis of numbers, and arrivals remain manageable through better solidarity and improved governance and management of migration."

Pope's reiterated call for protection of migrants

Pope Francis, the Church and other religious leaders and faith-based organizations have tirelessly advocated for new EU legislation to safeguard the lives and dignity of migrants who undertake dangerous journeys in search of a better life. 

But many European nations keep dragging their heels and only Pacts that are non-binding have been approved. Meanwhile, thanks to a recently renewed deal between Rome and Tripoli according to which Italy funds and trains the Libyan Coast Guard,  tens of thousands of migrants rescued by Libyan ships have been returned to Libyan detention camps where they end up in appalling conditions, exposed to abuse and extortion. Others go missing and are unaccounted for, raising fears they may have been channeled into human trafficking networks.

Numbers on the rise

In the first half of this year, the Libyan coast guard has plucked more than 13,000 people from the Mediterranean, exceeding the total figure for 2020, while earlier this month, the IOM said that the number of people who have died trying to make the crossing nearly doubled in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year.

Hundreds of thousands have attempted the perilous crossing in the last years, most of them fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

 

27 July 2021, 10:46