Hope Drowns On Rubber Boat – Another 15 Libyan Migrants Dead

Fifteen hopeful migrants have drowned in another attempt to escape the failing structure of Libya to a promising new chance at life in Europe. 

The Mediterranean Sea has become a graveyard once again, claiming a total of at least 56 people between two shipwrecks in a week. The presumed dead included three children and four women, one of whom left behind a newborn baby currently in Lampedusa, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the majority of the survivors suffered burns from engine fuel and hypothermia.

According to UNHCR, the small vessel started taking in water 15 hours after the journey began. Eight people drowned before rescuers spotted the distressed site. Rescuers transported the remaining survivors to the Sicilian port town of Porto Empedocle in Italy. The vessel was a rubber boat carrying at least 110 people who had departed from the Libyan coastal town of Zawiya on Friday, Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the IOM, stated. 

“Tragedies and avoidable loss of life continue as a policy of silence and inaction persists,” Msehli shared in a Twitter post. “That migrants and refugees should continue to try desperately to reach Europe via the Central Mediterranean is demonstration of the need for an immediate international effort to provide them with viable alternatives to these deadly sea crossings. The solutions exist, what is needed is a step change to strengthen access to education and to increase available sources of livelihood in countries along the route,” shared in a United Nations statement.

Libya has become a hot-spot transit point for refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe. Smugglers at this port often crowd desperate families into rubber boats or flimsy fishing boats that often do not outlast the “most dangerous migration route in the world,” according to the UN. 

Since 2014, 20,000 people have died trying to create a new life, reported by the IOM. Since 2017, at least 36,000 people have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard, UN figures show. Those caught are forced to return to Libya and are held in detention camps, where dire conditions continue to worsen. 

The European Union (EU) has reportedly put more than 90 million euros towards funding and training the Libyan coastguard to prevent and stop the crossings. EU members such as Italy and Malta are likely to refuse docking permission to humanitarian rescue boats.

The oil-rich country which holds the reputation of being a key departure destination for migrants, once held one of the highest standards of living in Africa, with free healthcare and free education. To figure out the root, we must analyze a time past and recognize the trigger and breaking point of the nation. The stability that once left a prosperous nation has broken and instability and war lay the groundworks. Ethnic, geographic and ideological fissures have come up creating a multilayered conflict that will not disappear with solely funding or statements from international organizations.

The nation must strategize from the foundation up if there is any hope of recovering generations of death and blood soaked land.