Wednesday, April 26, 2017
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Over 100 refugees drown after boat capsizes off Libya

More than 100 bodies are recovered near Zuwarah in latest disaster involving refugees trying to reach Europe, navy says.

The bodies of more than 100 people who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea were found washed up on beaches near the Libyan city of Zuwarah, a Libyan navy spokesman said. 

Colonel Ayoub Gassim told The Associated Press on Friday that at least 104 bodies have been pulled out of the waters near the western city, but that the expected death toll is likely to be higher since such boats usually carry up to 125 people.

Most of the victims appeared to be from sub-Saharan Africa, though their bodies were decomposed and it was not clear when they had drowned.

The bodies of two children were among those recovered.

On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said at least 880 people drowned over the past week following a series of shipwrecks as departures from the North African coast towards Italy surged.

Many of the boats are believed to have left from the shore around Zuwarah and Sabratha in Libya's northwest.

A coastguard spokesman in Tripoli said no boats had been intercepted over the past two days, with rougher seas preventing patrols.

People smugglers in Libya have exploited political chaos and lawlessness to expand their activities along routes from sub-Saharan Africa, often working with local armed groups.

The head of the EU's Mediterranean naval mission recently said that people smuggling was estimated to account for between 30 and 50 percent of the gross domestic product in northwestern Libya.

Refugees and migrants reportedly pay smugglers hundreds of dollars for a place on boats, often flimsy inflatable craft that either sink or are picked up by international rescue missions.

The new Libyan government faces a complex challenge asserting its authority, while efforts to counter people trafficking were thrown into disarray by the conflict that followed Libya's 2011 uprising, and the coastguard feels abandoned.

"The only assistance we have been offered so far is promises," Colonel Abdulssmad Massoud, of the coastguard in Tripoli, told the Reuters news agency.

So far this year more than 40,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Italy by paying people smugglers for the journey, broadly in line with a steep increase in numbers since 2014.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe via RSS or Email:

Donation

Thanks to all of our supporters for your generosity and your encouragement of an independent press!

Enter Amount:

Featured_Author

Login






Login reminder Forgot login?

Subscribe to MWC News Alert

Email Address

Subscribe in a reader Facebok page Twitter page

Week in Pictures

North Korea marks

Europe's late spring freeze