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Over 100 migrants feared dead after boat capsizes off Libyan Coast

ANI | Updated: Jul 26, 2019 05:49 IST

Tripoli [Libya], July 26 (ANI): More than 100 Europe-bound migrants are feared drowned after the boat they were travelling in capsized off Libya's coast in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday.
The boat was carrying around 250 people when it sank off the town of Al Khoms, located about 120 kilometres east of capital Tripoli, Al Jazeera reported.
However, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a Twitter post on Thursday that more than 150 people were feared drowned while 145 were rescued and returned to Libya after the incident.
"The worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year has just occurred," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Charlie Yaxley said the survivors were picked up by local fishermen and then taken back to shore by the Libyan coastguard.
People from across the African continent escape primarily through Libya, fleeing poverty, harsh governments, and chaotic, violent conflict in their own countries.
"Urgent action is needed to save lives at sea and prevent people from getting on these boats in the first place by offering safe, legal alternatives," Yaxley to Voice of America News.
The UN has also urged the European Union to drop its policy of backing the Libyan coastguard to intercept and forcibly return people caught while trying to cross to Europe from the country.
The EU ended its naval patrols in the Mediterranean in March this year due to disagreements on how rescued individuals should be divided among EU member states.
The decision came amid resistance to the naval operations from Italy, whose far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini rejected the existing arrangement whereby most of those rescued at sea were taken to Italian ports. (ANI)