The bodies of at least 95 migrants have been found washed ashore in Libya over the past five days, a spokesman forLibya’s Red Crescent said Sunday.
Mohamed al-Masrati said Red Crescent scouts found 85 of the corpses near Libya’s capital Tripoli and 10 near Sabartha, a Libyan coastal city that is a main launching point for smugglers’ boats headed to Europe. He says most of the deceased are migrants from other African countries and search efforts continue.
Thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe cast off from Libya on rickety boats, hoping to reach Italy. The International Organization for Migration says that more than 2,600 migrants have died in 2015 so far on the Central Mediterranean route that includes Libya.
Smugglers have exploited Libya’s internal turmoil to ship thousands of desperate migrants into the Mediterranean.
An Irish naval ship rescued 242 people from wooden crafts near Tripoli in its first operation since being deployed to assist an international migrant rescue effort, Ireland’s Defence Forces said on Monday.
The LÉ Samuel Beckett vessel, which was deployed on Sept. 25, rescued the people 93 kilometres north-west of Tripoli, the Defence Forces said, publishing a photograph on its Twitter account showing some people about to be lifted onto a ship.
At the same time, the number of Libyans displaced by the fighting continues to rise.
“Up to today there are more than 550,000 internally displaced people in Libya due to the current conflict in Benghazi and other places, and we believe this number will increase to at least 600,000,” said al-Masrati.
The United Nations is pressing Libya’s rival governments to form a national unity government. Meanwhile the U.N. says an estimated 2.44 million people in Libya — nearly 40 per cent of the country’s population — are in need of protection and some form of humanitarian assistance.