CAIRO (AP) — A migrant boat has capsized off the coast of Libya, killing at least 35 people or presumed dead, the United Nations migration agency said on Saturday.
The sinking took place on Friday off the western Libyan town of Sabratha, a major launching point for mainly African migrants making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Human Rights said. migrations.
IOM said the bodies of six migrants had been removed while 29 others were missing and presumed dead. It is not immediately clear what caused the wooden boat to capsize.
The tragedy was the latest to involve migrants leaving North Africa to seek a better life in Europe. In the past week alone, at least 53 migrants have been reported dead or presumed dead off the coast of Libya, according to IOM.
“A dedicated search and rescue capability and a safe disembarkation mechanism are urgently needed to prevent further death and suffering,” IOM said.
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Investigators commissioned by the UN’s top human rights body have found evidence of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya against migrants held in government-run prisons and at the hands of human traffickers humans.
Earlier this month, more than 90 people in an overcrowded boat drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, days after leaving Libya, according to aid group Doctors Without Borders.
Migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores. The country has become the main transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
In recent years, human traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos in Libya, smuggling migrants across the long borders of the oil-rich country with six nations. Migrants are then usually crammed into ill-equipped dinghies and set off on risky sea voyages.
At least 476 migrants died along the central Mediterranean route between January 1 and April 11, according to IOM.
Once back in Libya, migrants are usually taken to government-run detention centers where abuse and mistreatment prevail.