Mounting death toll in Mediterranean cause for concern for UNCHR and IOM
This would be the largest loss of life recorded in the Central Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. So far in 2021 alone, at least 300 other people have drowned or gone missing in the Central Mediterranean. This is a significant increase compared to the same period last year, when some 150 people drowned or went missing along the same route. IOM and UNHCR warn that more migrants and refugees may attempt this dangerous crossing as weather and sea conditions improve and living conditions in Libya deteriorate.
In Libya, migrants and refugees continue to be subjected to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, exploitation and violence, conditions that push them to take risky journeys, especially sea crossings that may end up with fatal consequences. Legal pathways to safety, though, are limited and often fraught with challenges. UNHCR and IOM reiterate their call on the international community to take urgent steps to end avoidable loss of lives at sea. This includes the reactivation of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, enhanced coordination with all rescue actors, ending returns to unsafe ports, and establishing a safe and predictable disembarkation mechanism.