11 dead as migrant boat capsizes off Libya coast

The 11 refugees were aboard an overloaded dinghy. Another 12 peoples were rescued by the Libyan coast guard and will be sent back to refugee camps in the country

May 03, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Migrant boat capsizes Libya
(Photo: IOM Libya/Twitter)

At least 11 people died on Sunday, May 2 when an overcrowded rubber dinghy carrying dozens of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea near the Libya coast. Another 12 people were rescued by Libyan coast guards, UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM) tweeted.

The overloaded dinghy was carrying undocumented migrants across the sea to Europe. The rescued people will now be sent to detention camps in Libya.

Smugglers reportedly overcrowded the rubber dinghy in an attempt to transport as many migrants as possible. Due to overloading and rough weather conditions, the boat capsized.

Every year, thousands of migrants from across the world travel across north Africa to reach war-affected Libya from where they try to cross over to Europe in search of better job opportunities and better living conditions. The rush to Europe through Libya has seen a spike in recent months. According to IOM, at least 7,000 migrants have been intercepted by European agencies and sent back to Libya so far this year.  

Libya has emerged as a major center of migrant trafficking due to the absence of an effective central government since the war in the country following a NATO-led invasion in 2011. Due to overcrowding of boats and rough weather, a large number of migrants have drowned in the sea each year. Only last month, at least 130 people had died in similar accidents.

According to IOM, at least 20,000 people have died in such accidents since 2014. Thousands more have been detained in unsafe detention centers either in Libya or in European countries. The people detained on landing in Europe are eventually deported back to Libya.

Due to the war situation in Libya, these migrants are also in danger of being caught in the crossfire and being killed or injured. At least 44 people were killed when rival forces attacked a migrant detention center in July 2019.  

IOM has repeatedly asked European countries to revise their migrant policies and devise a concerted program to prevent such unsafe travel by migrants. It has also asked these countries to not deport the refugees/migrants back to Libya as it is completely unsafe for them due to the ongoing war and conflict. However, European countries have failed to address the issue in any substantial manner so far, and continue to rely on their coastal security to deal with the issue.