Shipwreck Leads to Death of at Least 60 Migrants

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 4, 2017: A Border Patrol vehicle patrols the international border wall near the ocean at Border Field State Park, the southwesternmost beach in the United States.

( – The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration said in a December 16 statement that a boat that was carrying dozens of migrants who were trying to enter Europe capsized off the Libyan coast and left over 60 people dead. The migration agency noted that the shipwreck took place overnight between December 14 and December 15. The accident represents the latest tragedy that has happened in this area of the Mediterranean Sea, which experts have described as one of the main and most dangerous routes for migrants that try to enter the so-called Old Continent.

In its statement, the UN’s agency said that 86 migrants were in the boat when strong waves swamped the vessel to Libya’s western coast town of Zuwara, with 61 migrants drowning. The International Organization for Migration also said on its Twitter account that many of those who survived lost some of their friends and family members in the accident.

In a separate statement published on December 16, the European Union’s border agency Frontex said that its airplane located the deflated rubber boat in Libya’s search and rescue area. It added that the migrants were in “severe danger” because of the weather conditions, which made the waves reach heights of 8.2 feet.

Over the last few years, Libya has become the main transport point for many Middle Eastern and African migrants, even when the North African country plunged into chaos after the coup against longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Some media outlets have reported that many human traffickers have been taking advantage of the chaos in the country by smuggling migrants across its lengthy borders, which it shares with other six countries. The migrants are usually crowded into poorly-equipped boats and set off on what some describe as the “riskiest sea voyage.”

International Organization for Migration’s spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said on his Twitter account that nearly 3,000 migrants have died on the Central European route in 2023. He said the number represents a “dramatic figure” that shows authorities aren’t doing enough to save “lives at sea.”

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