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18 migrants die off Libya trying to reach Europe

A new drama of illegal immigration in the Mediterranean. Eighteen migrants seeking to reach Europe drowned in a shipwreck off the west coast of Libya, corroborating sources were told on Tuesday.

Eighteen Egyptians died in the sinking of their boat and 51 other migrants were rescued, an official of the Libyan coast guard told AFP on Tuesday, who relies on the testimonies of the survivors to draw up this assessment.

“Sixteen migrants including a woman and a child disappeared (Sunday) off Zouara, 48 migrants survived,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Monday on Twitter citing the count of its data system Missing Migrants Project.

The city of Zouara is located 120 kilometers from the capital Tripoli, on the west coast of Libya, a North African country plunged into chaos since 2011.

Libya remains an important crossing point

Despite persistent insecurity, Libya remains an important crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants each year seeking to reach Europe via the Italian coast, some 300 km from the Libyan coast.

The country of some seven million inhabitants has become since the revolt of 2011 the hub of human trafficking on the continent.

Tens of thousands of migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and looking for an El Dorado in Europe, fall prey to traffickers when they do not die trying to cross.

Nearly 970 people have died in the Mediterranean since the start of the year

The number of migrants who died at sea trying to reach Europe has more than doubled this year, IOM said in mid-July. Nearly 970 people have died in the Mediterranean since the start of the year.

The latest tragedy occurred at the end of July, when around sixty migrants drowned in a shipwreck off the west coast of Libya.

Also according to the IOM, 20,257 migrants were intercepted between January and August and returned to Libya.

The Libyan coast guards face multiple accusations of ill-treatment, while the intercepted candidates are placed in detention centers where they languish in deplorable conditions regularly criticized by NGOs.

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