Feb 15, 2023 - World

At least 73 migrants presumed dead after boat wreck off Libya's coast

An installation during a demonstration organized by the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans and other NGOs depicting migrants, who died in the Mediterranean Sea, in Piazza del Gesu in Naples, southern Italy on Oct. 15, 2022. Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least 73 migrants attempting to reach Europe are missing and presumed dead after their boat wrecked off the coast of Libya, the UN International Organization for Migration in Libya said on Wednesday.

The big picture: Years of tightened border controls and tactics designed to stem the flow of irregular migration to Europe have forced migrants and asylum seekers to turn to increasingly perilous journeys.

What happened: The boat carrying around 80 people wrecked after departing the Libyan village of Qasr Al Kayar on Tuesday, the IOM said in a tweeted statement.

  • Seven survivors were taken to the hospital after making it back to shore "in extremely dire conditions," the agency said.
  • At least 11 bodies have so far been retrieved by the Libyan Red Crescent and local authorities, the IOM added.

An unstable Libya has become a major transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East fleeing economic instability, political persecution or other human rights abuses. For years, European countries have encouraged — and supported — Libyan authorities to intercept migrants who attempt to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Those intercepted are often detained in Libyan detention centers where they face severe human rights abuses, the UN and rights groups have documented.
  • More than 25,800 have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea since 2014, according to the IOM. The agency notes that the true number is likely much higher.
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