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Another 132 people have been rescued by the Libyan coast guard and local fishermen.
At least 116 migrants are missing after a shipwreck on the Libyan coast that could be the deadliest of those in the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, according to the spokesman for the Libyan navy, Ayoub Qassem. Another 132 people have been rescued by the Libyan coast guard and local fishermen and all of them are already on the mainland. However, these figures differ with those presented by the United Nations, which described the incident as “the worst tragedy” of 2019.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has expressed fear that the number of missing people will rise to 150 people. “Terrible news. Information comes from a large shipwreck off the coast of Libya,” said Charlie Yaxley, a spokesman for UNHCR for Africa and the Mediterranean, in a message posted on his official Twitter social network account that sounded all the alarms
The office in Libya of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), under the UN, also echoed the fears of a new tragedy through its Twitter account. One of the survivors would have told that a group of about 300 people embarked on the wrecked ship. However, according to the Libyan navy, aboard the wooden boat that left the Libyan town of Al Khoms, located about 120 kilometers east of Tripoli, there would be about 250 people, which explains the divergence between their respective balances of possible fatalities.
Because of the good weather, in summer the number of boats full of migrants that leave Libya to try to reach the European coast usually increases, so accidents also multiply. Last May, more than 80 people died after the wreck of a patera about 60 kilometers off the coast of Tunis, at the height of the city of Sfax. The boat had left Zuara, a Libyan city bordering Tunisia. The Tunisian coastguards could only rescue four people.
Although there are no official figures, it is estimated that several tens of thousands of migrants are trapped in Libya waiting to make a clandestine sea voyage to Europe. More than 5,000 of them languish overcrowded in detention centers under draconian conditions, several humanitarian organizations have denounced. His situation has worsened since about three months because of the launch of an offensive by Marshal Jalifa Hafter to take over the capital, Tripoli. According to UN estimates, hostilities have already killed at least 1,100 people and several tens of thousands have been forced to leave their homes.
According to the latest IOM report , more than 600 people have lost their lives so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean. Of these, more than 60% correspond to the so-called central route, which connects Libya with Italy. This figure is slightly lower than last year by these dates. Until last May 8, some 17,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Europe by sea, representing a 30% decrease compared to 2018.
The so-called “refugee crisis” has tested the resilience of the institutions of the European Union by coinciding with the rise of far-right parties with a xenophobic speech. In order to address this problem, a group of 14 European countries reached an agreement last Monday to distribute migrants and refugees based on a proposal made by France and Germany. The announcement of the pact came after a meeting of the Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs meeting in Paris.
Source: El Pais