At least 74 African migrants drown off Libyan waters

The Libyan Red Crescent has recovered the bodies of 74 people who washed ashore on Monday, February 20th, near Zawiya on Libya’s northern coast.

According to a news release by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), a torn rubber boat was found nearby, suggesting that the deceased were attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

“Libyan Red Crescent volunteers collected the bodies of the deceased with dignity, placing them in body bags for transfer to a local hospital,” the statement says.

More than 270 people migrating are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean in the first weeks of 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2016, more than 5,000 deaths at sea were recorded, making it the deadliest year on record.

The Red Crescent did not say where the migrants are from. However, in recent years, many migrants traveling via Mediterranean smuggling routes come from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and other African countries.

IFRC says that “collective international action” is needed to avert further deaths, calling them tragic and entirely preventable.

Photos by IFRC