Boat sinks in Libya, 60 people presumed dead

Numerous individuals are missing and presumed dead following the sinking of their boat off the coast of Libya, as reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The tragedy unfolded as the vessel, which departed from Zuwara on Libya’s north-west coast during the night between December 13 and 14, encountered high waves that overwhelmed it. Of the approximately 86 people onboard, 61 are believed to have perished, with survivors indicating that most victims, including women and children, hailed from Nigeria, the Gambia, and other African countries.

Libya and Tunisia continue to serve as primary departure points for migrants embarking on perilous sea journeys in the hopes of reaching Europe, typically via Italy. The IOM disclosed that 25 individuals were rescued and transferred to a Libyan detention center, where they received medical support and were reported to be in good condition.

Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesperson for the IOM, highlighted the alarming toll on human lives along the central Mediterranean migration route, noting that over 2,250 people had lost their lives this year alone. He emphasized the urgent need for increased efforts to save lives at sea.

The incident adds to a series of tragic events, including the sinking of the Adriana, a fishing boat carrying 750 people from Libya to Italy in June, where only 104 survived. The majority of those onboard were Syrians, Pakistanis, and Egyptians. The UN refugee agency reported that over 153,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy this year from Tunisia and Libya.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, known for her far-right stance on immigration, won elections with promises to halt illegal immigration. The Italian government’s recent plan to establish centers in Albania to accommodate asylum seekers has faced a setback as Albania’s constitutional court suspended ratification due to constitutional and international convention concerns raised in appeals.

The deteriorating situation in Libya, marked by more than a decade of violence since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, has created favorable conditions for human traffickers, leading to a range of abuses. The IOM emphasizes the criminal act of sending boats into stormy seas, but also calls for European authorities to enhance monitoring in the Mediterranean to prevent such tragedies.

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