Following a shipwreck that claimed the lives of 45 migrants and refugees, including five children, in the central Mediterranean, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have called for search and rescue to be stepped up.

This is the largest recorded shipwreck off the Libyan coast this year, according to the aforementioned organisations.

Development Diaries learnt that the boat carrying over 80 people sank on 17 August after its engine exploded off the coast of Zwara, western Libya.

Some 37 people were said to have been rescued by local fishermen.

‘We fear that without an urgent increase in search and rescue capacity, [there] is a risk of another disaster similar to incidents that saw a large loss of life on the Central Mediterranean prior to the launch of Mare Nostrum’, the organisations said in a statement.

The two organisations also voiced concerns over delays in rescue and disembarkation and called on states to swiftly respond to distress calls and provide a predictable port of safety to people rescued at sea.

Additionally, they called for lifting of legal and logistical restrictions on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) vessels that have played a crucial role in saving lives at sea amid a sharp reduction in European state-led efforts.

Source: UN News

Photo source: UNHCR/Alfredo D’Amato

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