At least 50 migrants from Libya drowned striving to reach Europe for a better life.
The tragedy took place when the migrant vessel capsized just off the Tunisian coast in the Mediterranean Sea, stated the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.
“This is a tragic and terrible reminder of the risks still faced by those who attempt to cross the Mediterranean,” –Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s special envoy for the Mediterranean.
- 16 survivors were rescued by nearby fishing boats from the water ‘in one of the worst incidents on the Mediterranean in months‘.
- International Organization for Migration (IOM)mentioned on twitter that only four of the dead bodies have been recovered so far in the ongoing search and rescue operations
- The boat is believed to have left from Zuwara, Libya, where violence has gripped capital Tripoli in recent weeks.
- According to news reports, the vessel which had 70 refugees on board sank 40 nm off the Tunisian coast.
- Migrants on board included Bangladeshi and Moroccan nationals, among others, an IOM official told The Associated Press news agency.
IOM termed the incident ‘another tragedy in the Mediterranean‘, which has already claimed at least 164 livesin the first four months of 2019. As per UNHCR, on an average one person dies for every three people who reach Europe through the migrant route, a higher death rate than in previous years.
Deadliest sea crossing in the world
Six refugees and migrants lost their lives every day in 2018 with one in 14 people dying at the Mediterranean, enroute from Libya to Europe: a UN report in January.
The western coast of Libya is the main departure point for people escaping Africa for Europe by the sea.
Although the number of migrants has dropped because of an Italy-led effort to break the smuggling networks. The effort also backs the Libyan coastguard with funds, ships and training.
UNHCR’s Cochetel urged quick action ‘across the region’ to “strengthen the capacity of search and rescue operations. He mentioned its crucial to prevent many more tragic events in the upcoming weeks and months.