A “tragic” shipwreck in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya killed at least 43 migrants on their way to Europe, the UN migration agency said on Wednesday.
The International Organization for Migration said that the shipwreck that took place a day earlier was the first maritime disaster in 2021 with migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
IOM said coastal security in Libya’s western city of Zuwara rescued ten migrants and brought them to the beach. According to the survivors, the dead were all men from West African countries.
The boat is said to have left the western city of Zawiya early on Tuesday and capsized a few hours later after its engine stopped operating in rough seas.
The IOM and UNHCR are saddened by the tragic shipwreck off the Libyan coast yesterday that claimed the lives of at least 43 people.
This tragic loss of life once again highlights the need for state-led search and rescue efforts: https://t.co/VoNcLwmYA0 pic.twitter.com/ooaUOcCPnt
– IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) January 20, 2021
Libya, which came down in chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed the long-standing dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has emerged as an important transit point for African and Arab migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe.
Most migrants make a dangerous journey in poorly equipped and unsafe inflatable boats.