20 people died following a shipwreck off the Libyan coast, Doctors without Borders said Thursday. The incident occurred just hours after at least 74 migrants also died in a similar incident.
“Two days ago, our boat set off to Italy from a site near al-Khums, at about nine o’clock at night. And yesterday, at two thirty in the morning our boat broke down and many people died at sea”, Mukhtar Salem Mohammed, Ghanaian migrant said.
Traumatized survivors sat in shock on the shore while others wrapped closely under blankets as aid workers distributed food parcels.
“When we arrived on site, we found the corpses of 31 migrants on the shore of the beach. We also found 47 survivors, all of them African nationals, including even women and children”, an Immigration official at the Ministry of Interior for the Government of National Accord, Mukhtar Salem Mohammed said.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said so far this year, over 900 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya, it added, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations”.
Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the overthrow of leader Muammar Gadhafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate attempts to reach Europe.
While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Libya. The Libya Coastguard has been backed by Italy and the EU. The migrants mostly end up in detention and often in horrific conditions.