Up to 150 feared dead in 'year's worst Mediterranean tragedy'
Written by Millennium on July 27, 2019
Scores of refugees and migrants are feared drowned after the boats they were travelling in capsized off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea, according to aid agencies and officials.
Ayoub Qasim, a spokesman for Libya’s coastguard, told The Associated Press news agency that two boats carrying around 300 people sank approximately 120km east of the capital, Tripoli, before adding that 134 had been rescued.
However, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a Twitter post on Thursday that more than 150 people were feared drowned while 145 were rescued and returned to Libya after the incident.
Charlie Yaxley, spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), said the survivors were picked up by local fishermen then taken back to shore by the Libyan coastguard.
“We estimate that 150 migrants are potentially missing and died at sea,” he said. “The dead include women and children.”
“The worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year has just occurred,” Filippo Grandi, UN high commissioner for refugees, said.
He called on European nations to resume rescue missions in the Mediterranean, halted after a European Union decision, and appealed for an end to migrant detentions in Libya. Safe pathways out of the North African country are needed “before it is too late for many more desperate people”, Grandi said.