215 people found dead off the coast of Libya trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea
Over the course of two days, more than 200 people drowned after leaving Libya for Europe, according to a report from the United Nations.
On Tuesday, 95 people died while traveling in a wooden boat carrying 100 passengers, the UN said. The boat was found near Libya’s capital, Tripoli, by the Libyan National Guard. The same day, in a different spot off the coast, 70 people drowned in a boat carrying 130 passengers.
The five survivors in the first instance were taken to a hospital by Libyan authorities, and in the second, the 60 survivors were taken back to Libya, although it is unclear if they are being medically treated, according to the UN report.
A day later, the Coast Guard was dispatched to Garabulli, about 40 miles east of Tripoli. Fifty people were found dead, the report said.
Authorities found 165 bodies on Tuesday and 50 more on Wednesday.
“These tragic deaths are a reminder that wars and poverty continue to drive people to take desperate journeys that cost them their life savings, their dignity and ultimately their lives,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
Libya’s capital, Tripoli, is often a departure point to Europe because of its location on the Mediterranean coast.
Deaths like these are not uncommon. The UN reported 90 people emigrating from Libya died in February and the Libyan navy said another 11 died in April.
There are between 700,000 and 1 million migrants in Libya, according to the UN International Organization for Migration. The national population is 6.2 million.
The country, which borders Egypt, is often seen as a destination of opportunity because it has the largest amount of oil reserves in Africa.
However, it has been plagued by violence and poverty in recent years. A Libyan civil war began in 2011 with clashes between the government and rebel forces, and that fueled a second war that is still going on. US sanctions were imposed on the country after an undercover investigation by authority into its modern-day slave trades.
Migration to Libya, though, has not ebbed. Tripoli’s location at the edge of the Mediterranean makes it a popular checkpoint for those all over the continent trying to escape conflict by fleeing to Europe. More than 60,000 people arrived in Italy from Libya between January and May of 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.