Since the ousting and killing of the longtime dictator of Libya Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in chaos. An uprising emerged that tore Libya into two halves. Additionally, the war caused the North African country to become a dominant transit point for migrants hoping to get to Europe.
Ill-Equipped boat transport Migrants
Smugglers started using rubber boats to transport desperate individuals and even families across the perilous Central Mediterranean route. Most of these boats are ill-equipped, however, and stall and founder while attempting ferry migrants. Due to this, numerous people and families have ended up drowning in these vessels while en route. According to the International Organization of Migration IOM, at least 20,000 people have died in those waters since 2014.
Cases of Migrant Drownings
One recent case in a series of at least eight shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean occurred this Thursday. At least 74 desperate migrants drowned while on the trip. Their ship destined for Europe capsized off Libya’s coast. The individuals and families on board ended up drowning at sea.
When the vessel overturned off the coast of the Libyan port of al-Khums, it had been carrying over 120 migrants, including children and women. Out of the 120 migrants, the Libyan coast guard and fishermen managed to rescue only 47 people and brought them to sea. The search for the remaining victims continued, and so far, only 31 bodies have been retrieved from the sea.
Another case involving 13 African migrants occurred on Tuesday. The 13 included three women and one child who drowned in a similar shipwreck off the Libyan coast.
Assistance in reducing the loss of life
Most of the ships that attempt to cross the Central Mediterranean end up capsizing because it is the deadliest sea-crossing in the world. Additionally, because the region is so fatal, the Libyan government does not have the capacity and cannot deploy the much-needed search and rescue vessels. As a result, numerous people and children lose their lives in the Mediterranean.
Over the years, some organizations and States have offered ships to help Libya reduce the mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean. A Spanish humanitarian rescue ship, for example, helped rescue 263 migrants on Wednesday and Tuesday. The large group of migrants rescued had fled Libya before being rescued from three different shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.
In another incident, the nongovernmental organization Open Arms also rescued 111 people. Furthermore, the organization recovered five individuals’ bodies after a boat fell apart, sending 116 people overboard, including two infants. A 6-month-old boy from Guinea named Joseph passed away after rescue and increased the number of dead to six.
The IOM announced that so far in 2020, more than 575 migrants and asylum seekers had perished. Most individuals died in the Central Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe. The organization said it had noticed a recent surge in the number of departures from the Libyan shores since the year started. Over 780 of the departures ended up in Italy, according to the organization. Due to the organization’s investigation into the matter, authorities have intercepted and returned more than 11,00 migrants to Libya