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Boat From Libya Sinks: More Than 60 Migrants Presumed Dead, Says UN

Photography by: [File: Francisco Seco/AP Photo], ALJAZEERA

Dozens of migrants, victims which come from Nigeria, Gambia and other African countries, including women and children, are missing and presumed dead after their boat sank off Libya’s coast, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said, in the latest migrant tragedy of north Africa.

It has been stated that there were about 86 migrants onboard, citing survivors.

The 61 people are believed to have died because of high waves, which swamped their vessel after it left from Zuwara, on Libya’s north-west coast, the IOM’s Libya office said in a statement on Saturday.

The IOM said the vessel had departed from the shores of Zuwara during the night between December 13 and 14. They also added that 25 people had been rescued and transferred to a Libyan detention centre.

It is known that Libya and Tunisia are principal departure points for migrants risking dangerous sea voyages in hopes of reaching Europe, via Italy.

An IOM team “provided medical support” and the survivors were all in good condition, the IOM office said. Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesperson, wrote on X that more than 2,250 people had died so far this year on the central Mediterranean migrant route, a “dramatic figure which demonstrates that unfortunately not enough is being done to save lives at sea”.

The Adriana, a fishing boat loaded with 750 people on the route from Libya to Italy, went down in international waters off south-west Greece on June 14. According to survivors, the ship was carrying mainly Syrians, Pakistanis, and Egyptians. Only 104 people survived, and 82 bodies were recovered.

More than 153,000 migrants arrived in Italy this year from Tunisia and Libya, according to the UN refugee agency.

Italy’s far-right prime minister, Giorgia Meloni who won elections last year, vowed to stop illegal migration, on November 6, the Italian government announced plans to establish centres in Albania to accommodate asylum seekers, with Meloni hailing it as a “historic” deal with Tirana to manage migration flows.

The agreement involves the creation of Albanian centres capable of housing up to 3,000 people. Only those rescued at sea by Italian boats will be taken to Albania; the centres will not accommodate asylum seekers who arrive on Italian shores. Minors, pregnant women, and vulnerable individuals who arrive at sea will continue to be transferred to Italy.

However, unfortunately, last Wednesday, Albania’s constitutional court suspended ratification, expected by parliament on Thursday, of the recent deal. The court was responding to two separate appeals, one from the Albanian Democratic Party, and the other from 28 MPs backing former centre-right premier Sali Berisha.

The appeals argue that the deal breaches the constitution and the international conventions to which Albania adheres. The ratification is suspended until the court issues a sentence, which has three months to complete it.

It has been more than a decade of violence in Libya since they overthrew and killed the dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. A Nato-backed uprising has helped turn the country into a fertile ground for human traffickers.

Edited by: Vikcy Muzio

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