Over 1 000 drown in dan­ger­ous jour­ney to Europe

African Times - - International / Africa - AHMED ZAYED

THE drown­ing of over 220 peo­ple while mi­grat­ing to

Europe has pushed the death toll in the Mediter­ranean Sea to more than 1 000 fa­tal­i­ties in 2018.

Vic­tims drowned off the Libyan coast af­ter boats cap­sized in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents re­cently.

In one mishap, the Libyan Coast Guard re­ported the drown­ing of peo­ple and res­cue of five oth­ers in Mayia in the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal Tripoli.

Last Wed­nes­day, the Libyan Coast Guard con­ducted a res­cue op­er­a­tion off Garab­ulli, 64 kilo­me­ters east of Tripoli, where it is re­ported over 50 peo­ple per­ished.

Ear­lier, 70 peo­ple are be­lieved to have drowned af­ter a rub­ber dinghy sunk at a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion off the Libyan coast. Lo­cal fish­er­men res­cued 60 sur­vivors back to shore in Dela, 35 km west of the cap­i­tal.

The United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ex­pressed dis­may

at the ever-grow­ing num­ber of refugees and mi­grants los­ing their lives at­sea.

“These tragic deaths are a re­minder that wars and poverty con­tinue to drive peo­ple to take des­per­ate jour­neys that cost them their life sav­ings, their dig­nity and ul­ti­mately their lives,” said UNHCR Com­mis­sioner, Filippo Grandi.

He called for ur­gent in­ter­na­tional ac­tion to strengthen res­cue at sea ef­forts by all stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion and com­mer­cial ves­sels, through­out the Mediter­ranean.

As the sum­mer sea­son starts in Libya, it is ex­pected the num­ber of refugees and mi­grants at­tempt­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean will in­crease.

The Euro­pean Union re­cently slapped six hu­man traf­fick­ers and smug­glers op­er­at­ing in Libya with travel bans and an as­set freezes.

DES­PER­ATE: Ly­bian Coast Guards es­cort a boat loaded with mi­grants try­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean Sea into Europe.

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