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UNHCR: 150 people may have died in shipwreck off Libya

Up to 150 people are feared to have died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya, while another 150 were rescued and are being returned to Libya, Reuters reported a spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR saying today.

Libya is a hub for migrants, many of whom try to reach Europe in unseaworthy boats. UNHCR and other UN agencies have repeatedly called for survivors not to be returned to Libya, a conflict zone where rescued migrants and refugees are routinely jailed in inhumane conditions.

The EU has funded and trained Libya’s coast guard to rescue migrants found trying to make the treacherous journey to Europe. As part of a deal made with Libya, the asylum seekers are then returned to Libya and held in camps.

Earlier this month, forces aligned with Brigadier General Khalifa Haftar struck a detention facility in a suburb of the Libyan capital of Tripoli which housed migrants who had been found trying to cross into Europe. At least 44 were killed in the attack and 130 injured.

The strike came as part of Haftar’s effort to gain control of Tripoli and ousted the internationally backed Government of National Accord.

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