The bodies of at least 74 African migrants were found washed ashore along Libya’s coast, according to the Libyan Red Crescent.
The incident occurred near Zawiya, a city close to Tripoli along Libya’s northern coast. A representative of the Libyan Red Crescent says that after finding the remnants of a torn rubber boat, he expects more bodies to turn up over the coming days.
This past weekend, over 500 migrants were rescued in the same area by the Libyan Coast Guard. The tragedy is another example of the migrant crisis that continues to unfold throughout northern Africa and the Middle East, as tens of thousands attempting to flee their homelands subject themselves to exceedingly dangerous conditions to make the transit to Europe and elsewhere.
The Italian Coast Guard and Navy have made massive rescues at sea, saving thousands of people over the past few years, with over 1,300 people pulled from the water in one operation this month alone.
The chaotic political and security situation in Libya is only exacerbating the conditions, with reports of human trafficking and exploitation from the various warring groups throughout the country.
According to the director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, 4,579 migrants died attempting to travel from Libya to Italy in 2016. In 2015, 2,869 deaths were reported, and 3,161 in 2014.
Libya has been without a stable and functioning national government since the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Since then, U.S. and other western special operations forces have been operating throughout the country, embedding with various rebel and militia units to serve as advisors. Last summer, that expanded to more direct support through shared intelligence and air support to partnered forces on the ground.
The exploitation of migrants and refugees will only continue, as Libya’s interim government struggles to consolidate authority and power amongst the multitude of factions and parties seeking power. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj was attacked in what has been described as an attempted assassination in Tripoli.
Leaders from a number of North African countries are set to hold a summit soon over the crisis in Libya. Diplomats from these countries are seeking resolutions that will not need further military involvement from foreign powers.
Image courtesy of the BBC