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UN migration official: 20 migrants drown off Libya’s coast

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CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s coast guard intercepted Wednesday 4 boats within the Mediterranean Sea carrying migrants attempting to succeed in Europe, a U.N. official stated. In response to the migrants, 20 individuals from one of many vessels had gone overboard earlier within the day and had been presumed to have drowned.

The circumstances below which the migrants went overboard had been unclear, stated Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the Worldwide Group for Migration. The vessel was overcrowded as most of the rubber dinghies and dilapidated boats smuggling the migrants sometimes are.

It was the most recent catastrophe within the Mediterranean involving migrants searching for a greater life in Europe.

Since Tuesday, a complete of seven vessels smuggling a whole lot of migrants had been intercepted off Libya’s coast, Msehli additionally stated. Round 500 migrants, together with 9 youngsters and 43 girls, had been returned to shore and brought to the Mabani detention heart in Tripoli, she stated.

Lots of the migrants had been exhausted and suffered from dehydration, she added.

There was a spike in crossings and tried crossings from Libya in latest months. Amnesty Worldwide has stated that within the first six months of this yr, greater than 7,000 individuals intercepted at sea had been forcibly returned to detention camps in Libya.

“The scenario within the central Mediterranean is a humanitarian disaster,” Msehli stated. “We’re in July, and have already got exceeded the variety of interceptions for the complete yr of 2020.”

An IOM report earlier this month stated the variety of migrants and refugees who died whereas making an attempt to succeed in Europe on harmful sea crossings greater than doubled up to now this yr, in comparison with the primary six months of 2020.

The report stated no less than 1,146 individuals perished between January and June, with the Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy being the deadliest, claiming 741 lives.

The deadliest shipwreck up to now this yr came about on April 22 off Libya, when 130 individuals drowned regardless of the ship sending a number of misery calls.

Libya has in recent times emerged because the dominant transit level for migrants fleeing battle and poverty in Africa and the Center East. The oil-rich nation plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed rebellion that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Rights teams and officers at U.N. companies that work with migrants and refugees have for years now cited survivor testimony about systematic abuse within the detention camps in Libya, together with compelled labor, beatings, rapes and torture. The abuse usually accompanies efforts to extort cash from households earlier than migrants are allowed to go away Libya on traffickers’ boats.

Earlier in July, Libyan maritime authorities acknowledged that certainly one of their coast guard vessel had fired warning pictures at a migrant boat it was chasing within the Mediterranean, in an obvious effort to cease it from crossing to Europe and endangering the lives of the migrants onboard.

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