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Libya: 34 bodies washed ashore in five days

This picture taken on December 26, 2021 along a beach in Qasr Khiyar, about 70 ....   -  
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MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP or licensors


The bodies of 34 illegal migrants who drowned while trying to reach Europe have been recovered from the coast of western Libya in five days, the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC) said Monday.

"For the second consecutive day, after the report of the sinking of a boat of migrants near the coast of Sabratha (west), 11 bodies were recovered and handed over to the authorities of the city (...), bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 34," the LRC said on Facebook.

On Wednesday, the LRC reported six bodies found on the shores of Sabratha, 70 km west of the capital Tripoli and 17 more on Sunday.

Images posted on Facebook show LRC volunteers carrying bodies in black bags and depositing them in ambulances.

"An inflatable boat carrying dozens of migrants flipped over not far from the coast of Sabratha on Wednesday," a security source in the city told AFP, estimating that "the number of casualties could increase."

"In this kind of incident, the chances of survival are slim (...) especially since no call for help has been made," added this source.

The NGO Alarm Phone, a group of volunteers that runs a hotline for migrants in difficulty, had claimed on Wednesday to have received a distress call from migrants on board an inflatable boat that was sinking off the coast of Libya with about 100 passengers on board.

The NGO had claimed to have tried to contact "the so-called Libyan coast guard", but in vain.

The chaos that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011 has made Libya a preferred route for tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Arab countries, and South Asia, seeking to reach Europe via the Italian coast.

Libya is regularly criticized by NGOs for the mistreatment of migrants.

Clandestine crossing attempts, often deadly, are also increasing from neighboring Tunisia.

On Monday, the Tunisian coast guard announced that it had found 31 bodies of sub-Saharan migrants "decomposing and washed up on the shore". Dozens of migrants were missing after their boats sank off the coast of Tunisia in recent weeks.

The authorities also announced on Monday that five migrants from sub-Saharan Africa had drowned in two separate shipwrecks off Tunisia in recent hours.

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