The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are deeply saddened by the tragic death of at least 45 migrants and refugees on 17 August, in the largest recorded shipwreck off the Libyan coast this year, report noted.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said 37 survivors from Monday’s shipwreck reported that at least 45 others had died when the engine of the vessel they were aboard exploded off the coast of Zwara.
The two agencies said the survivors, mostly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana, were rescued by local fishermen and later detained upon disembarkation.
🆘️ SOS! Another boat in distress in #Malta SAR!
This morning ~120 people called Alarm Phone, asking us for help as their boat was drifting. We alerted authorities but there's no rescue in sight yet.
They said: "We are not fine. Don't let us die here!"
Europe, listen to them! pic.twitter.com/8pgtnzaaxp
— Alarm Phone (@alarm_phone) August 19, 2020
Both agencies are calling for a review of States’ approach to the situation after this latest tragic incident in the Mediterranean while urging for the need to strengthen the current search and rescue capacity to respond to distress calls.
NGO vessels have played a crucial role in saving lives at sea amid a sharp reduction in European state-led efforts. The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be impeded and legal and logistical restrictions on their work must quickly be lifted.
The shipwreck was the latest maritime disaster involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe. The latest shipwreck brings the death toll to at least 302 on the route so far this year, the current estimated number of fatalities is likely much higher, the U.N. agencies’ statement said.
The instability and lack of security in Libya enables smugglers, traffickers, and criminals in general to act with impunity as they prey on vulnerable migrants and refugees.