The Libyan Red Cross on Sunday recovered the bodies of 22 immigrants off the coast of Zuwara in western Libya, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The President of the IOM Mission in Libya, Federico Soda, tweeted: “Today, the Libyan Red Cross lifted 22 bodies in Zuwarah,” illustrating his post with pictures of dead bodies in black bags piled on the beach.
“These grievous deaths are the result of an escalating policy towards people who are fleeing conflict, extreme poverty and the failure of humanitarian handling of the influx of migrants,” said Soda.
In a joint statement, the International Organisation for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that fishermen rescued 37 others from drowning, adding that at least 45 lost their lives after their boat’s engine exploded near the coast of Zuwarah.
In Geneva, the organisation’s spokeswoman, Safaa Meshaili, confirmed that “considering the above-mentioned boat wreck site, it is possible that they are the same persons.”
She added: “The bodies that were recovered today belong to Africans, but their nationality has not yet been identified.”
“This reminds us once again of the perils of these attempts and the dangers that these desperate people are willing to face in order to escape violence and severe poverty,” said Meshaili.
She explained that the lack of search and rescue efforts generates “great concern as the escalating deaths and tragedies could be avoided.”
Despite the ongoing violence since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in 2011, Libya is considered a major gateway for migrants who are fleeing instability in other regions of Africa and the Middle East and heading towards Europe.
Immigration attempts from the Libyan coast increased by almost 300 per cent between January and April, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the United Nations.
Last year, more than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean, and 1,200 of them drowned, according to the IOM.