UN, coast guard: Boat with 50 migrants capsizes off Libya | News | DW | 28.09.2019
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UN, coast guard: Boat with 50 migrants capsizes off Libya

Rescuers are attempting to save the lives of more than 50 people whose boat capsized off the coast of Libya. The migrants were hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

At least 50 migrants are at risk after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya, according to the UN relief agency and Libya's coast guard. 

Ayoub Gassim, a spokesperson for the coast guard, confirmed that the incident had taken place off the western city of Misrata. At the time he stated he was unable to provide further details but confirmed that rescuers were on their way.

Alarm Phone, an independent support group for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea, said there were "about 56 lives at risk" after receiving calls from the migrants on board. The organization stated "they are desperately calling for help and are afraid to die."

Libya, a hub for those looking to Europe

The migrants were taking the route from Libya to Europe, escaping war and economic insecurity. Libya is currently locked in an ongoing civil war and as such has become a hub for people from all over Africa who are hoping to reach Europe.

However, without official and affordable routes available for the migrants they are forced to pay people smugglers large amounts of money to travel on overcrowded and unregulated boats across the sea.

No safe passage

Reaching Europe does not ensure  safety or security as European nations  instigate harsher policies against those arriving from the African continent.

Italy's former hard-line Interior Minister Matteo Salvini earlier this year blocked rescue ships carrying migrants from docking at its ports, yet a change of government has renewed hopes of a softer approach to the migrant issue.

European nations also halted official rescue missions for refugees, replacing them with border enforcement agency Frontex in 2014.

The 28-nation bloc has not yet found compromise or reached an agreement on a system of distribution for rescued migrants, as current laws state that migrants must seek asylum from the first country in Europe that they reach. This means that countries on the edges of the bloc often shoulder more of the migrant burden than the nations to the north and to the west.

kmm/jlw (AFP, AP)

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