BENGHAZI, Libya (HPD) — At least 15 bodies have been recovered after a migrant boat capsized off Libya’s western coast, a spokesman for the country’s Red Crescent Society said Friday.
Tawfiek Al Shukri said local authorities had informed the aid group about bodies washed up on the shoreline. He said they were recovered and transported to a hospital, where they will be examined to determine the cause of death.
Groups of migrants often cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores.
In a video posted online, the burned hull of the wrecked vessel is seen embedded in rocks on the shoreline, with bodies strewn on and around it. The cause of death was not immediately clear, nor was it known when the fire started.
The incident occurred outside the city of Sabratha in western Libya, a major departure point for mostly African migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
For the past few years, people smugglers have profited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling migrants across the country’s long borders with six other nations. They are then often loaded onto poorly equipped rubber boats and embark on risky sea voyages.
There were reports that a mass shooting had occurred on the ship. A Libyan non-governmental organization, which focuses on migrant issues and calls itself the International Organization for Emergency Relief and Cooperation, said in a statement that the 15 dead had been killed by people smugglers, who shot them and then killed them. They set fire to the boat.
The International Organization for Migration said in June that at least 150 migrants leaving Libya had died in the first six months of 2022. Another 565 were missing.
Libya has become the main transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East in a context of internal conflicts. Torn by civil war since 2011, the oil-rich country is divided between rival governments, each backed by international sponsors and various armed militias on the ground.
Many of those who have been intercepted and returned to Libya — including women and children — are being held in government-run detention centers, where they are subjected to abuses including torture, rape and extortion, according to rights groups. human rights.