Dozens of asylum seekers drown in shipwreck off Libya: IOM | Migration news

About 86 people were on board the boat, the Libyan office of the International Organization for Migration said, citing survivors.

At least 61 refugees and asylum seekers, including women and children, have drowned following a “tragic” shipwreck off Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

The agency’s Libya office early Sunday morning quoted survivors as saying the boat was carrying about 86 people.

“Most of the migrants” are believed to have died due to high tides after their ship, which had set off from Juwara on Libya’s northwest coast, overturned, the IOM’s Libya office said in a statement.

Most of the victims are from Nigeria, Gambia and other African countries, and nearly 25 have been rescued and transferred to a Libyan detention center, the IOM office said.

An IOM team “provided medical assistance” and all survivors are in good condition, the organization said.

IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo wrote on X, previously on Twitter, that more than 2,250 people have died this year along the central Mediterranean migrant route, a “dramatic number that unfortunately proves that it is not enough to save lives at sea”.

Libya and Tunisia are the main departure points for refugees and asylum-seekers who embark on perilous sea journeys in the hope of reaching Europe via Italy.

On June 14 this year, the Adriana, a fishing boat traveling from Libya to Italy with 750 people on board, capsized in international waters off southwest Greece.

According to survivors, the ship consisted mainly of Syrians, Pakistanis and Egyptians. Only 104 people survived and 82 bodies were recovered.

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According to the United Nations refugee agency, 153,000 refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Italy this year from Tunisia and Libya.

Meanwhile, the influx of migrants has led to rising anti-refugee sentiment in Italy, where far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni won last year’s election on a promise to crack down on immigration.

Meloni met with United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama in Rome on Saturday to discuss ways to combat undocumented immigration to Europe.

Like Meloney, Sunak adopted a strict anti-immigration policy. His government has clamped down on migrants using small boats to cross the English Channel. A plan to send migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda has been declared ‘unlawful’ by the UK’s High Court.

In July, the European Union finalized a deal with Tunisia that will pay the North African country part of it to curb irregular immigration.

Large numbers of migrants are often placed in boats that are not large enough to safely navigate the treacherous passage. Some of the migrants are fleeing conflict or persecution, while others dream of better opportunities in Europe. They land in Italy before trying to move on to other countries, especially Western Europe.

Libya has descended into chaos since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. The country is now home to 600,000 refugees.

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