Hundreds of migrants die at sea fleeing Libya

Over 1,400 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea over the past two months as they attempt to flee Libya in un-seaworthy and overloaded boats, according to the UN Refugee agency UNHCR.

Migrants in Libya

Migrants in Libya

The latest tragedy occurred on Friday in which over 600 people are believed to have drowned after their boat broke up shortly after departing Tripoli.

UNHCR says the full death toll is still unknown although sixteen bodies have been recovered.

Most of those on board are believed to have been migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Humanitarian agencies are appealing to NATO and commercial shipping companies operating in the Mediterranean Sea to assist in the rescue of migrants attempting to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa or Malta in rickety and overloaded boats.

Melisa Fleming is from UNHCR.

“We are reiterating our appeal to European states to urgently put in place more reliable and effective mechanisms for rescue at sea on the Mediterranean. We reiterate that call today. We also appeal to ship masters to be more vigilant and to continue their adherence to the long-standing maritime obligation of aiding people in distress at sea. People fleeing Libya are often doing so in un-seaworthy and overloaded vessels. We believe that any boat leaving Libya should be considered at first glance as a boat in need of assistance.”

UNHCR says over 12,300 migrants have arrived in Italy and Malta from Libya over the past two months.

Filed under Today's News.
UN Radio Daily News Programme
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