Libya: UN Seeks Resumption of Mediterranean Rescues

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have called for rescue operations following another shipwreck off the coast of Libya that claimed 43 lives.

The boat reportedly capsized due to bad sea conditions when its engine stopped, just a few hours after embarking from the Libyan city of Zawra on 19 January.

According to the ten survivors, mainly from Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, and The Gambia, those who died were all men of West African origin.

In a joint statement, the UN agencies expressed their sadness at the tragic event, the first of 2021 in the Central Mediterranean.

The survivors, according to the statement, have received emergency assistance, including food, water and medical screenings from IOM and International Rescue Committee (IRC) staff.

‘IOM and UNHCR reiterated their call on the international community for an urgent and measurable shift in the approach to the situation in the Mediterranean’, the statement read.

‘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 situation for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya remains extremely high risk as hundreds are known to have lost their lives in 2020.

IOM and UNHCR say they fear that due to the limited ability to monitor routes, the actual number of deaths in the Central Mediterranean during 2020 could be much higher.

‘Before they attempt a crossing, migrants also face many threats within Libya, including arbitrary arrests and detention in the direst of conditions’, the agencies said.

Source: UN News

Photo source: IOM/Hussein Ben Mosa

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