The bodies of 17 migrants have been found off the coast of Libya after their ship capsized during an attempt to reach Europe by sea, coast guards said.
Libya is a major departure point for desperate migrants, tens of thousands of whom board boats each year trying to reach the Italian coast 300 kilometers (190 miles) away.
Traveling often becomes deadly.
“Over the past 24 hours, the bodies of 17 migrants were found on the coast between the towns of Zawiya and Sorman, by Red Crescent teams,” said a Coast Guard official.
The victims sank after their boat capsized, he said.
The Red Crescent in Zawiya, 50 kilometers west of the capital Tripoli, published images of shrouded corpses.
The number of migrants who have died at sea trying to reach Europe has doubled this year compared to the same period in 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in mid-July.
In September, IOM counted 1,369 migrants who had drowned in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year.
The latest deaths come days after a “security campaign” by Libyan authorities on the outskirts of Tripoli, mainly targeting illegal immigrants.
“The number of migrants and refugees held in detention centers in Tripoli, Libya, has increased dramatically to more than tripled over the past five days,” Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday.
“Arrests and treatment during detention have often been violent, with many people beaten, injured and even killed.”
He said that “at least 5,000 migrants and refugees (were) gathered all over Tripoli”, including women and children, had been raped.
The United Nations Mission in Libya UNSMIL said at least one person was killed and 15 were injured.
Rights groups regularly warn of appalling conditions for immigrants in the country’s detention centers, where human traffickers have taken advantage of a decade of violence since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 to set up lucrative but brutal businesses.
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