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December 18, 2023
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61 migrants, mostly Nigerians and Gambians, perish in Libyan shipwreck

Sixty-one migrants, including women and children from Nigeria, Gambia, and various African countries, tragically lost their lives in a recent shipwreck off the coast of Libya, as reported by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency.

The ill-fated boat, which initially carried 86 people, departed from Zwara in Libya. The IOM highlighted the perilous nature of the central Mediterranean migration route, dubbing it one of the world’s most dangerous.

The majority of the victims were identified as hailing from Nigeria, Gambia, and other African nations. Of the 86 on board, 25 survived and were subsequently transferred to a Libyan detention center. The IOM provided medical assistance, noting that all survivors were in good condition.

Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesperson, lamented that over 2,250 people had lost their lives on the central Mediterranean route in the current year, underscoring the urgent need for increased efforts to save lives at sea.

Drowning emerged as the leading cause of death on global migration routes in the first half of 2023, with 2,200 recorded fatalities. The IOM’s report emphasized the central Mediterranean route’s grim distinction, accounting for 1,727 deaths and disappearances along its shores during this period. Tunisia recorded the highest number of deaths, followed by Libya. The IOM acknowledged that these figures likely underestimate the actual toll.

Libya and Tunisia continue to be primary departure points for individuals embarking on perilous sea journeys in the hopes of reaching Europe, particularly Italy. Sea migrant arrivals in Italy nearly doubled in 2023 compared to the same period in the previous year, with approximately 140,000 people making landfall. The majority, 91 percent, originated from Tunisia, placing significant strain on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

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