Approximately 150 refugees have perished off the Libyan coast, after the boat they were in was shipwrecked as they tried to sail to Europe from al Khoms 120 km east of Tripoli.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that at least another 150 who were rescued by fishermen and the coastguard have been brought back to Libya in what it described as “the worse Mediterranean tragedy” so far this year.
Libya is the focal point from which many African and Arab migrants attempt to reach Europe for a better life.
However, the waters off the North African country are extremely dangerous, and thousands of refugees have died at sea after their un-seaworthy boats sailed by human traffickers capsized.
Humanitarian organisations operating rescue boats have reached a standoff with the Libyan coast guard and several European governments, specifically the Italians – who are trying to stem the flow of illegal refugees to their countries.
They do this by having them returned to Libya or prevented from leaving in the first place – and have declared the rescue operations illegal and have arrested some of the rescue personnel.
This forced some of the organisations to stop their operations towards the end of last year. However, several have defiantly announced they are returning to the Mediterranean at the end of July to continue their rescues.
– African News Agency (ANA)