Wednesday, 9 July 2014

13 illegal migrants found dead on Libya coast

Libyan authorities have found 13 decomposing bodies in a wooden boat off the coast of the southwestern town of Tagora, a Libyan navy official said on Tuesday.

The boat, which reportedly sank off the coast on Sunday, is suspected of having carried a group of Syrians trying to illegally migrate to Italy via Libya, navy spokesman Ayoub Qassim told Anadolu Agency.

He said the bodies of women and children were among those found on the boat, which was pulled from the water on Tuesday.

Qassim warned of increasingly frequent cases of illegal migrants drowning while en route to Europe, going on to accuse European governments of not taking firm enough measures to address the crisis.

Libya is a major transit point for African migrants seeking access to Europe, especially Italy, via the Mediterranean Sea.

From March to August of last year, more than 30,000 illegal migrants entered the troubled North African country, according to U.N. estimates.

UNHCR told reporters that so far this year more than 500 people are known to have died trying to cross the sea from Africa and Asia to various countries in Europe. A record 64,000 people traveling in small boats from north Africa have reached Italy alone this year - more than in all of 2013.

The Libyan coast guard informed UNHCR on Monday that the dead in the latest accirdent included three Syrians - including the mother and her children aged three and six -- three Eritrean nationals and six other Africans of as yet undetermined nationalities, spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing.

The boat, which reportedly capsized off the coast of Tripoli, had a capacity of about 200 passengers and may have been carrying many more people, Edwards said. Search and rescue operations are ongoing and the fate of others who may have been aboard is unknown.

At least 217 people are believed to have drowned off the Libyan coast so far in 2014 while trying to cross the Mediterranean. Another 290 people are confirmed dead or missing from accidents in the waters off Italy, Turkey and Greece, bringing the death toll in the Mediterranean so far this year to over 500 people.

Wednesday 09 July 2014


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