The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Thursday that at least 74 migrants have died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coast.
The IOM said the Libyan coast guard and fishermen rescued 47 people and brought them ashore.
The boat was transporting more than 120 migrants, including children, when it capsized off the coast of Libya, a major transit point for primarily African migrants trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
At least eight other shipwrecks have occurred in the Central Mediterranean in the past six weeks. The IOM said at least 900 migrants bound for Europe have drowned this year and some 11,000 others have been stopped at sea and returned to Libya, where migrants are frequently detained, abused, exploited and subjected to trafficking.
In addition to IOM, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees warned that Libya is not a safe port of return and that migrants should not be returned there.
Since the 2011 revolt that resulted in the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the war-torn country has become a major transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East hoping to reach Europe.
Smugglers often pack desperate migrants onto ill-equipped rubber boats that sometimes encounter navigation problems along the hazardous central Mediterranean route, where the IOM says at least 20,000 people have died since 2014.
Source: Voice of America