Bodies of 117 refugees wash up on Libyan beach
TRIPOLI—At least 117 bodies, many women, were pulled from the sea off Libya after a smuggling boat of mostly African refugees sank, while a separate search-and-rescue operation across the Mediterranean saved 340 people Friday and recovered nine bodies. Smugglers have exploited the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi to traffic migrants across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. It is a lucrative business for the smugglers, who cram migrants into boats that are small and unsafe for the perilous journey to Italy, just 190 miles from Libya’s shores.
This is a cross-border network of smugglers and traffickers, and there is a need for an international effort to combat this phenomenon.
As traffickers take advantage of the improving weather, officials say, it is impossible to know how many unseaworthy boats are being launched daily — and how many never reach their destination. The developments were the latest deadly disasters for refugees and migrants seeking a better life in Europe, and they followed the drowning of the more than 1,000 people since May 25 who have attempted the long and perilous journey from North Africa to Southern Europe.— Agencies