70 Asylum Seekers Feared Dead as Boat Capsizes Off Libya

At least 70 migrants and refugees are feared dead or have drowned in the Libyan coast since late February, a UN agency said, adding there was little hope of finding survivors as 47 others are still missing.

The International Organization for Migration (MOI) said on Thursday that at least 22 lives were lost in the incidents that took place in the central Mediterranean on February 27 and March 12.

In the latter tragedy, a boat reportedly carrying 25 migrants capsized off the Libyan port city of Tobruk, bringing the total number of migrants reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean to 215 so far this year, MOI said in a statement.

“I am appalled by the continuing loss of life in the Central Mediterranean and the lack of action to tackle this ongoing tragedy. More than half of this year’s deaths have been recorded near the Libyan coast.” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission.

Soda furthered that each missing migrant report represents a grieving family searching for answers about their “loved ones.”

“Families deserve to know the fate of their children, siblings, parents, partners or friends,” Soda added.  

The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said that over 123,000 migrants landed in Italy from Libya and neighboring Tunisia in 2021, up from around 95,000 the previous year.

Another 2,000 migrants also went missing or drowned last year in the Mediterranean compared to 1,401 in 2020, according to UNHCR.

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