There may be fears of an increased rate of illegal migration attempts as around 30 illegal migrants have reportedly been drowned when their EU-bound boats capsized off the western shores of Libya.
Libya’s Coast Guard, Al-Zawia office, said 3 boats loaded with some 500 illegal migrants were intercepted and rescued off Mellitah coast while 3 other boats sank, leaving around 30 migrants, including men and women, dead.
4 bodies were recovered while the others are still missing. The 3 rescued boats were set on fire after taking the migrants to safety, the Coast Guard said.
Also on Sunday, the Red Crescent reported that nine migrants trying to reach Europe drowned and hundreds more were been rescued, off Libya.
The nine who died were among several hundred migrants who were discovered aboard dilapidated boats off the port of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, on Saturday.
On Friday, leaders from six EU nations led by Britain held talks in Brussels, on how to tackle the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean from Libya after a European naval task force killed more than 3,100 from the water in just three days.
Colonel Ayoub Qassem, a spokesperson for the navy of a Tripoli administration that has disputed power with Libya’s internationally recognized government since 2014, said a total of 586 migrants were rescued.
They included 11 children and 60 women, and were mainly Bangladeshis and Sudanese. The drownings came just days after four migrants were killed in a boat fire off Libya and another 187 rescued.
European leaders fear that a deal with Turkey to tackle the EU’s worst ever migrant crisis will spark an acceleration in the already large number of crossing attempts from Libya.
Around 330 000 have landed in Italy from Libya since the start of 2014.
The lawlessness that has reigned in the North African Libya since the Nato-backed overthrow of veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has made it a favoured jumping-off point for illegal migrants.