A catastrophic shipwreck killed over 40 African migrants after embarking from the coast of Libya early Tuesday morning.
The “tragic” shipwreck is the first maritime tragedy in the Central Mediterranean of 2021 affecting migrants pursuing better lives in Europe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. The boat reportedly capsized after migrants were attempting to leave the Libyan city of Zawra.
The Central Mediterranean route is one of the world’s most deadly migration routes, killing one in six individuals fleeing the shores of North Africa, according to Al Jazeera. Desperate families are frequently crammed into inadequately built rubber boats by smugglers which causes the ships to wreck or come apart. (RELATED: 24 People Reportedly Die After Boat Carrying Migrants Capsizes On Way To Europe)
Following another deadly shipwreck off the coast of Libya that claimed 43 lives on Monday, the UN migration and refugee agencies have called for countries to re-activate search and rescue operations.
CC: @IOM @UNmigrationhttps://t.co/6rii04fQW2
— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) January 20, 2021
Coastal security forces rescued the 10 remaining survivors of the wreck, according to a joint press release from the IOM and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both organizations along with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) assisted by providing emergency aid including food, water and medical screening. The survivors stated that everyone who lost their lives were men from West African countries.
Mediterranean rescue operations have been dramatically scaled down in recent years, and the situation for migrants attempting to flee Libya remains extremely high risk. Some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have recently blamed the increased deaths in the region on the European Union and the Member States, according to UN News.
The organizations renewed their appeal for an immediate and “measurable” change in the response of the international community to the Mediterranean crisis. “This includes ending returns to unsafe ports, establishing a safe and predictable disembarkation mechanism followed by a tangible show of solidarity from European states with countries receiving high numbers of arrivals,” the statement said.
Since 2015 the European Union has mobilized more than 455 million euros in an emergency trust fund to help stabilize African countries and reduce immigration causalities.