Libya: Shipwreck of migrant boat, at least 43 deaths (UN)

The sinking of a migrant boat off the coast of Libya left at least 43 people dead, while 10 people were rescued, according to a report announced by the UN on Wednesday, in the aftermath of the tragedy.

In a joint statement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) say they are deeply saddened by the shipwreck on Tuesday, the first of 2021 in the Central Mediterranean, which cost the lives of at least 43 people.

According to IOM and the International Relief Committee, a UNHCR partner in the field, 10 survivors were rescued and taken ashore by the Coast Guard in Zwara, Libya. Emergency assistance, including food and water, was provided to them by the United Nations and its partners.

The boat had embarked in the early hours of the day Tuesday from the town of Zaouia, about 50 km west of Tripoli.

According to the United Nations, the ship‘s engine stopped a few hours after departure, and the boat capsized because of the state of the sea.

Survivors, mainly from Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia, reported that the men who died were all from West African countries.

In total, more than 1,200 migrants died in 2020 in the Mediterranean, the vast majority of them on this central route, according to IOM.

IOM and UNHCR are concerned that the actual number of people who died on this road last year will be much higher.

Candidates for exile from various countries leave mainly from Tunisia and Libya to Europe via Italy, whose coasts are the closest.

On 11 January, the Ocean Viking, the sea rescue ship of the NGO SOS Méditerranée, left the port of Marseille in France to return to the central Mediterranean where the crossings of candidates for exile are multiplying.

The Italian authorities imposed on the NGO costly work on the ship for compliance, including the addition of liferafts and additional immersion suits.