Dozens migrants, refugees killed in shipwreck off Libya coast: UN
At least 45 migrants and refugees, including five children, have died off the coast of Libya's Zwara city after their vessel's engine exploded on Monday, according to the UN's migration agency.
The shipwreck is the biggest seen off Libya's coast this year, where thousands of people have undertaken the perilous crossing into Europe at the hands of people traffickers.
After being rescued by local fishermen, some 37 survivors were detained by Libyan authorities. The survivors were predominantly from West Africa.
More than 100,000 migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean last year with more than 1,200 dying in the attempt, according to the IOM.
Tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as sub-Saharan African and Asian migrants hoping to make it to Europe, have found themselves stranded in Libya in horrifying conditions.
The overthrow and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 sparked years of chaos that traffickers have exploited to turn Libya into a key route for illicit migration to Europe.
The situation of refugees and asylum seekers became more critical after eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an assault on Tripoli in 2019, and was further compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
Migrant departures from Libya's coast increased by nearly 300 percent this year between January and the end of April, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the UN.