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Libya boat mishap 'worst Mediterranean tragedy' of 2019 - UNHCR chief

Libya boat mishap 'worst Mediterranean tragedy' of 2019 - UNHCR chief


At least 116 migrants are missing and another 132 were rescued by Libyan coast guards and local fishermen after a wooden boat capsized off the coast of Komas, a town east of the capital Tripoli.

Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem confirmed the incident. Ge cited survivors as saying there had been more than 200 migrants on board the boat.

Earlier, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said that up to 150 people were feared dead in the shipwreck while another 150 were rescued.

The UNHCR head, Filippo Grandi described the incident as the worst tragedy for 2019.

“The worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year has just occurred. Restoring rescue at sea, ending refugee and migrant detention in Libya, increasing safe pathways out of Libya must happen NOW, before it is too late for many more desperate people,” he said in a tweet.

About 164 people died on the route between Libya and Europe in the first four months of 2019.

The U.N. has routinely declined the sending of rescued migrants to Libya, citing the chaotic nature of political events in the country. The country is currently split between a U.N. backed government in the capital Tripoli and an eastern rebel faction led by Khalifa Haftar.

Libya has been a main transit point for migrants predominantly from sub-Saharan Africa seeking to make the journey to Europe.

Deaths in the Mediterranean have been a major result of attempts by migrants to cross into Europe usually aboard unfit and overcrowded boats and other means.

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