The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said in a statement that they were deeply saddened by a tragic shipwreck off the Libyan coast on Tuesday, which was the first of 2021 in the Central Mediterranean.
IOM and UNHCR said the shipwreck claimed the lives of at least 43 of illegal immigrants, while IOM and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), UNHCR’s partner on the ground, added that ten survivors were rescued and brought to shore by Coastal Security in Zuwara.
The statement added that the boat, which embarked in the early hours of Tuesday from the city of Al-Zawiya, reportedly capsized due to bad sea conditions when its engine stopped, just a few hours after departure.
"Survivors, mainly from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, and The Gambia, reported that those who perished were all men from West African countries." The statement added.
IOM and UNHCR reiterated their call on the international community for an urgent and measurable shift in the approach to the situation in the Mediterranean, including ending returns to unsafe ports, establishing a safe and predictable disembarkation mechanism followed by a tangible show of solidarity from European states with countries receiving high numbers of arrivals.
IOM and UNHCR also acknowledged the efforts made by the Libyan authorities in combatting smuggling and trafficking, and appealed for an increase in efforts to prosecute and hold accountable criminal groups responsible for human rights’ abuses targeting thousands of migrants and refugees in the country.