Three babies among 100 dead in latest shipwreck off Libya

30 Jun 2018, 08:40

The three babies were among dozens of people on a rubber boat. Photo: Collected

The lifeless bodies of three babies, dressed in brightly coloured clothing and looking almost as if they were sleeping, were carried carefully ashore Friday in Libya.

Held in the outstretched arms of three men close to the water’s edge, one of the babies was still wearing sneakers, fastened shut with pink Velcro straps, another with red socks that matched a pair of red and white dotted pants and the third barefoot, partially wrapped with a makeshift covering, reports

They were the latest victims of the migrant crisis, their young lives lost as a rubber boat carrying desperate migrants seeking a better life capsized off the north Africa nation’s coast. A hundred or more people are dead, a spokesman for the UN migration agency, the International Organisation for Migration, said in a tweet.

The news came just hours after European Union leaders hailed a new deal on migration that could see more migrants prevented from making the Mediterranean crossing -- if it can be made to work.

Hundreds of people have already lost their lives this year attempting the perilous Mediterranean crossing, according to the IOM..

The issue of migration has surged up the European political agenda in recent years as the numbers fleeing war and poverty jumped. Libya is one of the main departure points for migrants trying to cross into Europe by sea, usually in flimsy inflatable boats provided by smugglers that often get punctured or break down, the Reuters reported.

Some make it to international waters where they hope to be picked up by international vessels, but increasing numbers are intercepted by Libya’s EU-backed coastguard and returned to Libya.

Departures surged in 2014 when conflict in Libya worsened and more than 650,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterranean since then.

But the traffic has slowed since last July, when smuggling networks on Libya’s coast were partially disrupted under heavy Italian pressure.

This year just over 11,400 arrivals from Libya have been registered by Italy’s interior ministry, more than 80 percent fewer than during the same period in 2016 and 2017.