At least 74 migrants died when a boat carrying them capsized in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, November 12 in Khoms near the Libyan coast. The dead include women and children.
The small dinghy was reportedly carrying over 120 people. The Libyan coast guards and local fishermen were able to rescue 47 people. The search for the bodies of the victims was still on at the time of reporting.
According to the UN’s International Organization of Migration (IOM), this was the ninth such incident since October 1, this year. In a separate but similar incident, a six-month-old baby from Guinea died hours after being rescued from a sinking boat near the Libyan coast on Thursday.
IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda said in a tweet that “The mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of States to take decisive action to redeploy much needed, dedicated Search and Rescue capacity in the deadliest sea-crossing in the world.”
IOM stated that due to restrictions imposed by the European countries on disembarking of undocumented migrants traveling by sea and their policy to forcefully return them to Libya and other places of origin puts thousands of migrants in danger. The dangers include death by drowning, death in the crossfire in the war in Libya or death due to prolonged detention by the governments in unhygienic and ill maintained detention centers in the region. IOM has urged the governments in Europe to review their policies regarding migrants with a sense of solidarity.
This year, more than 10,000 migrants have been intercepted or rescued and returned to #Libya.
In the absence of concrete action from States on Search and Rescue, safe predictable disembarkation and solidarity, more people are taken back to exploitation and abuse. pic.twitter.com/RMiwi4URxc
— Federico Soda (@fedsoda) November 9, 2020
As per the data available with the IOM, more than 900 people have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe this year so far. Most of the countries in Europe have put severe restrictions on the migrants traveling by sea and also restricted the work done by the NGOs such as Open Sea. Such restrictions hampers the rescue and relief work done and puts the lives of migrants at risk.