130 European migrants feared to die on the Libyan coast

Cairo (AP) — A shipwreck off the Mediterranean coast of Libya threatens to kill more than 100 European migrants, an independent rescue group said.

SOS Mediterranee, which operates the rescue ship Ocean Viking, said late Thursday that the remains of an inflatable raft, initially carrying about 130 people, were found in the Mediterranean Sea northeast of Libya’s capital, Tripoli. The rescue vessel did not find any survivors, but the group added in a statement that it was able to see at least 10 bodies near the wreck.

“We are heartbroken. We are thinking of lost lives and families who may never be sure what happened to their loved ones,” he read the statement. ..

Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that banished and killed long-time dictator Muang Mar Gadafi, war-torn Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. Smugglers often pack desperate families into unequipped rubber boats, get stuck along dangerous central Mediterranean routes, and serve as founders.

European humanitarian organizations have added that more than 350 people have been drowned in the sea so far this year, excluding the victims of this latest wreck.

“The state relinquishes its responsibility to coordinate search and rescue operations and forces private stakeholders and civil society to fill the deadly void they left behind,” the statement added.

AlarmPhone, a crisis hotline for migrants suffering in the Mediterranean, said in another statement that it had been in contact with a boat suffering for nearly 10 hours before capsizing. Alarmphone notified European and Libyan authorities of the boat’s GPS location, but added that only non-state rescue groups were actively searching for it.

“People may have been rescued, but all authorities deliberately killed them at sea,” they said in a statement.

The alert phone accused European authorities of refusing to coordinate search operations and instead held the Libyan Coast Guard fully responsible. The Libyan Coast Guard also refused to start rescue operations.

In recent years, the European Union has partnered with the Libyan Coast Guard and other local groups to stop such dangerous sea crossings. However, rights groups say these policies can confuse migrants with armed groups or lock them up in abusive and filthy detention centers.

“These are the humanitarian consequences of policies that do not support international law and are the most basic humanitarian obligations,” tweeted Eugenio Ambrosi, Chief of Staff of the International Organization for Migration.