Sixty-one migrants drown in shipwreck off Libya – IOM
CAIRO, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Sixty-one migrants, including women and children, drowned following a shipwreck off Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya said.
IOM, in a post on social media platform X, quoted survivors as saying the boat, carrying around 86 people, departed the Libyan city of Zwara, about 110 km (68 miles) from the capital, Tripoli.
“The central Mediterranean continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes,” IOM said.
Deadly incidents this year included one in June, when a fishing boat packed with hundreds of migrants sank off Greece after departing from Tobruk, Libya. The voyage, which was supposed to end in Italy, resulted in 78 recorded deaths with the fate of 518 others unknown, according to an IOM report.
Drowning was the main cause of death on migration routes globally in the first half of 2023, with 2,200 recorded fatalities in the period, according to the IOM report.
The central Mediterranean route was the deadliest, accounting for a total of 1,727 deaths and disappearances along its shores in the period, the IOM report said. The majority of the deaths were recorded in Tunisia, followed by Libya, it said.
The figures remain an undercount, IOM said in its report.
Sea migrant arrivals to Italy have almost doubled in 2023 compared with the same period last year, with around 140,000 people coming ashore so far. Some 91% came from Tunisia, with the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa bearing the brunt of landings.
The European Union and Tunisia signed a “strategic partnership” deal in July that includes combating human traffickers and tightening sea borders during a sharp increase in boats leaving the North African nation for Europe.
Britain and Italy announced plans on Saturday to jointly finance the journey home for migrants stranded in Tunisia, according to statements from both countries, but did not say how much would money was being provided.