"Tragedy" of 700 feared dead in Mediterranean

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Migrants are felling instability in North Africa (file photo)
UN Photo

As many as 700 migrants are feared to have died after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast the UN has said.

It's thought the passengers were heading towards the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

If confirmed, the incident would be one of the worst disasters involving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

The boat, which it's thought was operated by people smugglers, is believed to have capsized when migrants moved to one side of the overcrowded vessel.

A recent intensification of lawlessness in Libya has reportedly provided smugglers with more opportunities to traffic people across the Mediterranean.

The international community is currently meeting at the UN Crime Congress in Qatar and has been discussing, amongst other issues, transnational organized crime.

Yury Fedotov the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had this to say about the incident.

"There can be no more relevant example of what this congress stands for, and what we confront around the world, than this awful news today that 700 men, woman and children are feared to have drowned off the coast of Lampedusa. Such tragedies must serve to strengthen our determination to ensure that we implement the Doha Declaration on behalf of the victims of crime, including migrants, and that we track down the smugglers who feed off desperation."

The Doha Declaration outlines policies, which promote the rule of law globally.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration:

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