At Least 70 Migrants Reported Dead or Missing Off Libya

At least 70 migrants are missing at sea and presumed dead off the Libyan shore in the past two weeks, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

On 12 March, a boat reportedly carrying 25 migrants capsized near the Libyan coast of Tobruk. Authorities rescued six migrants and recovered seven bodies while 12 remain missing. The latest incident brings the total number of migrants reported dead or missing in the Central Mediterranean up to 215 this year, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.   

IOM continues to call for concrete action to reduce loss of life in the central Mediterranean route through dedicated and proactive search and rescue and a safe disembarkation mechanism in accordance with international law. 

“I am appalled by the continuing loss of life in the Central Mediterranean and the lack of action to tackle this ongoing tragedy. More than half of this year’s deaths have been recorded near the Libyan coast,” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. “Each missing migrant report represents a grieving family searching for answers about their loved ones. Families deserve to know the fate of their children, siblings, parents, partners or friends.”  

The recent shipwreck follows devastating reports on 27 February when a fiberglass boat departed Sabratah port and capsized four hours later due to high waves. No survivors were found while 15 bodies, including one baby, washed ashore in the following days. Around 35 migrants are still missing.        

These tragic incidents are often a result of unequal access to legal and safe mobility. More options for safe, orderly and regular migration are urgently needed, so that people are not compelled to risk their lives in search of safety and better opportunities.