Ninety migrants are feared drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, says the UN’s migration agency.
“Ten bodies are reported to have washed up on Libyan shores,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.
Three survivors said most of those who drowned were Pakistani nationals. An IOM spokesperson said Pakistanis were increasingly trying to make the perilous crossing to Italy.
Ten bodies are reported to have washed up on Libyan shores.
IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) February 2, 2018
Libya is a popular transit route for migrants trying to reach southern Europe by sea.
Many are packed into unseaworthy vessels by smugglers who then abandon them to their fate in the Mediterranean Sea.
“According to IOM records, some 29 Libyans were rescued or intercepted in all of 2017, but we estimate the true figure to be much higher,” said Olivia Headon, an IOM official.
In 2017, 3,138 Pakistani migrants arriving by sea to Italy from Libya, but IOM reports that the numbers this year are alarming with an estimated 240 reaching Italy in January, compared to just nine in January 2017.