Women, children among 61 migrants drown after shipwreck off Libya

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As many as 61 migrants, including women and children, drowned after a “tragic” shipwreck off Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya said on social media platform X on Saturday.

Image used for representational purpose (Photo | AP)
Image used for representational purpose (Photo | AP)

The IOM quoted survivors‮ ‬as saying the boat, carrying around 86 people, departed the Libyan city of Zwara, news agency Reuters reported.

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Libya, which has had little stability or security since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, is a major launching point for people seeking to reach Europe by sea. People-smuggling networks are mainly run by military factions that control coastal areas.

In recent months, security forces in Libya have reportedly cracked down on migrants with detentions and deportations.

In a similar incident, at least 79 migrants drowned in June and hundreds more were missing and feared dead after their overloaded boat capsized and sank in open seas off Greece, in one of Europe’s deadliest shipping disasters in recent years.

A media report said the boat left from Libya, and a shipping ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said most of those on board were from Egypt, Syria and Pakistan.

In February, 96 people died when their wooden boat smashed into rocks on Italy’s Calabrian coast during a storm.

Greek state broadcaster ERT said the boat was en route to Italy from the Libyan town of Tobruk, which lies south of the Greek island of Crete. Greek authorities did not confirm the vessel’s departure port.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

But since the previous conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis introduced tougher controls at the country’s migrant camps, more people have chosen to make a longer, riskier sea journey from Turkey to Italy via Greece.

The Greek migration ministry blamed international smuggling networks for putting migrants’ lives at risk, while Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called on governments to work together on creating safe pathways for people fleeing poverty and war.

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