IOM: 11 Migrants Drown off Libyan Coast

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On Sunday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that at least 11 migrants drowned when a rubber dinghy carrying two dozen people capsized off Libya.

In a statement, the IOM said that the tragedy took place near the western town of Zawiya. The Libyan Coast Guard managed to rescue 12 migrants from the wreckage, and brought them ashore.

Sunday’s deadly shipwreck was the latest along the central Mediterranean migration route. Last month, at least 130 migrants were presumed dead after their boat capsized off Libya, in one of the deadliest maritime tragedies in years along the busy route.

“The continuous loss of life calls for an urgent change in approach to the situation in Libya and the Central Med.,” the IOM said in a Twitter post.

Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. The oil-rich country plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

There has been a spike in crossings and attempted crossings from Libya in recent weeks. Around 7,000 Europe-bound migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya this year, according to the IOM’s tally.

Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous central Mediterranean. Over the last several years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Europe either on their own, or after being rescued at sea. Thousands have drowned along the way. Others were intercepted and returned to Libya and left at the mercy of armed groups, or confined in squalid detention centers that lack adequate food and water, according to rights groups.