IOM, UNHCR call for urgent action after 45 illegal immigrants drown off Libya's coast

IOM, UNHCR call for urgent action after 45 illegal immigrants drown off Libya's coast

August 19, 2020 - 20:50
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Written By: AbdulkaderAssad

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said they were deeply saddened by the tragic death of at least 45 illegal immigrants and refugees on August 17 in what they had described as the largest recorded shipwreck off the Libyan coast this year.

According to a joint statement by the UNHCR and IOM, 37 survivors – mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana – were rescued by local Libyan fishermen and later detained upon disembarkation. They reported to IOM staff that 45 others including five children lost their lives when the vessel’s engine exploded off the coast of Zwara.

UNHCR and IOM also called for a review of states’ approach to the situation after this latest tragic incident in the Mediterranean, saying there is an urgent need to strengthen the current search and rescue capacity to respond to distress calls.

"We fear that without an urgent increase in search and rescue capacity, is a risk of another disaster similar to incidents that saw large loss of life on the Central Mediterranean prior to the launch of Mare Nostrum." The two organizations said.