More than 1,000 people have drowned this year attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, while 200 hundred of those have died in the past three days, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
According to IOM, three babies were among 103 people who died in shipwreck as a result of smugglers packing migrants into unsafe vessels.
On Sunday, the Libyan Coast Guard reported 100 people were missing after a small rubber boat capsized off the coast of Tripoli. According to IOM, 41 people survived the rescue.
IOM director general William Swing said he was en route to the Libyan city following the latest string of causalities.
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“IOM is determined to ensure that the human rights of all migrants are respected as together we all make efforts to stop the people smuggling trade, which is so exploitative of migrants,” Swing said in a statement.
Another rubber dingy capsized Friday, just north of Tripoli, where only 16 people were rescued while an estimated 103 people died at sea.
“Adding to grim and tragic scene, the bodies of three babies were taken from the sea by the Libyan Coast Guard,” IOM said.
Between Friday and Sunday, close to 1,000 migrants were returned to the Libyan shore by the coast guard. So far this year, the coast guard has returned about 10,000 to shore, where Libyan authorities transfer them to detention centres.
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“There is an alarming increase in deaths at sea off Libya Coast,” IOM Libya chief of mission Othman Belbeisi said in a statement. “Smugglers are exploiting the desperation of migrants to leave before there are further crackdowns on Mediterranean crossings by Europe.
“Migrants returned by the coast guard should not automatically be transferred to detention and we are deeply concerned that the detention centres will yet again be overcrowded and that living conditions will deteriorate with the recent influx of migrants,” Belbeisi said.
IOM statistics show that prior to the latest shipwrecks, 972 people were reported dead or missing as of June 27, while almost 45,000 migrants entered Europe by sea, compared to the roughly 95,000 who crossed during the same time period last year and the and 230,000 in 2016. In 2017, 2,172 people were reported dead or missing.