100 migrants missing, feared dead off Tripoli

2018-06-29 16:59
Libyan coast guard (Mahmud Turkia/AFP)

Libyan coast guard (Mahmud Turkia/AFP)

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Libya's coast guard said on Friday that about 100 migrants are missing at sea, feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of this North African country.

The Libyans managed to rescue 14 migrants from the group, the coast guard's spokesperson, Ayoub Gassim, told The Associated Press. He couldn't provide definitive numbers for the migrants who were on board or their nationalities.

The boat capsized east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the 14 were rescued early on Friday, he added. It was unclear when they embarked on the perilous trip for Europe or from where they had set off.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East. Traffickers have exploited Libya's chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, the UN's migration and refugee agencies praised a European Union deal about taking in migrants from across the Mediterranean region, while cautioning that details need to be specified and pointing out that the involvement of the African Union is "indispensable."

Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration, said it was "very pleased at the solidarity and consensus" that emerged from an EU summit in Brussels, in particular with the "front line states" like Italy.

Doyle said he believed that most of the "disembarkation centres" planned by the EU would be in Europe, though he said it was up to the EU to determine which countries would host them.

Charlie Yaxley, a spokesperson for refugee agency UNHCR, said it was "still awaiting the legal analysis" of the summit's outcome, but would welcome greater collaboration on asylum.

He noted that recently, for the fifth year in a row, the "grim milestone" of 1 000 migrant deaths in the Mediterranean was crossed.

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