At least 57 people, including 20 women and two children, have drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast near Khums, a UN migration official said.
UN International Organisation for Migration spokesperson Safa Msehli tweeted about the latest tragedy in the central Mediterranean on Tuesday, reporting at least 75 people were on board the boat when it was hit with bad weather.
“According to survivors brought to shore by fishermen and the coast guard, at least 20 women and two children were among those who drowned,” Ms Msehli said.
Eighteen people from the vessel were rescued and returned to shore on Monday, she said.
Migrant boat departures to Italy and other parts of Europe from Libya and Tunisia have increased in recent months.
‼️ A shipwreck off #libya claims at least 57 lives today after a boat capsized near Khums.
According to survivors brought to shore by fishermen and the coast guard, at least 20 women and two children were among those who drowned. pic.twitter.com/QXqs1Oc7kx
— Safa Msehli (@msehlisafa) July 26, 2021
Hundreds of thousands have made the perilous crossing in the last few years, many fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
In the first half of this year, almost 15,000 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan coastguard.
Amnesty International reports that of those 15,000 people, more than 7,000 people were forcibly returned to detention camps in Libya, Aljazeera reports.
According to the UN, more people have attempted to flee Libya in the first six months of this year than all those who fled in 2020.
– with AAP