39 Migrants Drown off Libyan Coast


Libyan authorities announced that a boat carrying 39 migrants sank off the coast of the city of Tolmeitha, northeastern Libya.

The Spokesman for the Maritime Rescue Unit in Tolmeitha, Hatem Belhaj said in statements to the LAAM media network, that the migrants were of Syrian and Lebanese nationality.

He added that the boat was carrying women and children, and the body of a woman was found. “We also found a bag with documents of a Syrian migrant,” he noted.

Libya is a major transit point for migrants, many from African countries, who are seeking better opportunities in Europe.

The International Organization for Immigration (IOM) designated the central Mediterranean route as the deadliest known migration route in the world. As more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances have been reported since 2014.

In 2021, at least 32,425 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya. At least 1,553 are presumed to have drowned last year, according to IOM.

Libya has been suffering insecurity and chaos since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The international medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or ‘Doctors Without Borders’ called for the evacuation of the most vulnerable migrants from Libya to safe countries.

“Since the start of MSF’s migration projects in Libya in 2016, we have repeatedly faced the same challenges: the impossibility of protecting migrants inside Libya, ensuring continuity of care for serious physical and mental conditions, and of rehabilitating victims of torture,” it added.

MSF called on European and North American states, among others, to offer protection to migrants currently trapped in Libya.

“A significant increase in the number of slots for resettlement to third countries of asylum should be promoted. Humanitarian evacuation and resettlement flights should be scaled up, and the relevant processes sped up, including quicker and smoother transit processes through facilities in Niger or Rwanda,” it recommended.