THE drowning of over 220 people while migrating to Europe has pushed the death toll in the Mediterranean Sea to more than 1 000 fatalities in 2018.
Victims drowned off the Libyan coast after boats capsized in separate incidents recently.
In one mishap, the Libyan Coast Guard reported the drowning of people and rescue of five others in Mayia in the outskirts of the capital Tripoli.
Last Wednesday, the Libyan Coast Guard conducted a rescue operation off Garabulli, 64 kilometers east of Tripoli, where it is reported over 50 people perished.
Earlier, 70 people are believed to have drowned after a rubber dinghy sunk at a different location off the Libyan coast. Local fishermen rescued 60 survivors back to shore in Dela, 35 km west of the capital.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed dismay at the ever-growing number of refugees and migrants losing their lives at sea.
“These tragic deaths are a reminder that wars and poverty continue to drive people to take desperate journeys that cost them their life savings, their dignity and ultimately their lives,” said UNHCR Commissioner, Filippo Grandi.
He called for urgent international action to strengthen rescue at sea efforts by all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisation and commercial vessels, throughout the Mediterranean.
As the summer season starts in Libya, it is expected the number of refugees and migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean will increase.
The European Union recently slapped six human traffickers and smugglers operating in Libya with travel bans and an asset freezes.