Dozens Of Migrants Perish In Shipwreck

An inflatable rubber boat carrying migrants from Africa to Europe on December 14 capsized off the coast of Libya, leaving over 60 people, including women and children, dead, the Associated Press reported.

The shipwreck was just the latest along a primary route for migrants attempting to flee to Europe over the Mediterranean Sea.

In a December 16 statement, the UN’s International Organization for Migration said the vessel was carrying 86 migrants when it was swamped by strong waves off the western coast of Libya. According to survivors, 61 migrants drowned.

The EU’s border agency Frontex confirmed that its aircraft had located the partially deflated rubber boat in Libya’s search and rescue zone on the evening of December 14.

In recent years, Libya has become the central transit point for African and Middle Eastern migrants fleeing for Europe, despite the chaos that followed the NATO-backed war in Libya that toppled Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Human traffickers have exploited the chaos in Libya to smuggle migrants across the border it shares with six nations. The migrants are then jammed aboard vessels ill-equipped for the journey, including rubber boats, and sent on their way to Europe.

Over 2,250 migrants have died this year attempting to make the crossing from Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration’s missing migrants project. Of those, 940 were confirmed dead and 1,248 were reported missing between January 1 and November 18, 2023.

The missing migrants project said another 14,900 migrants attempting to make the journey from Libya to Europe this year, including more than 1,000 women and over 530 children, were intercepted en route and returned to Libya where they are placed in government-run detention centers.

According to investigators commissioned by the UN, the migrants placed in Libyan detention centers are subjected to forced labor, torture, beatings, and rape.