At least 41 people drowned over the weekend when the boat they were traveling in capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, the United Nations reported Wednesday, in what constitutes the most recent shipwreck of migrants fleeing the conflict ridden Libya in search of a better life in Europe.
UN refugee and migration agencies said in a joint statement that at least 120 migrants were in the fragile boat that left Libya on February 18. The shipwreck occurred two days later, he added.
A commercial ship rescued the survivors and brought them to the Sicilian town of Porto Empedocles, according to the agencies. Only one body was recovered and the missing include three children and four women, one of whom left a newborn baby in Lampedusa, according to sources.
The shipwreck is the latest on the migration route through the central Mediterranean, where some 160 migrants en route to Europe have perished since early 2021, UN agencies said.
Since the years following the 2011 uprising in which dictator Moamar Gaddafi was deposed and assassinated, this country has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing wars and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.
Smugglers overload flimsy rafts with desperate families capsizing on the dangerous central Mediterranean route.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have arrived in Italy on their own or after being rescued at sea.
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