JUN 29, 2018: Libya’s coast guard rescued more than a dozen survivors from a capsized migrant boat, which officials say left at least 100 people, including three babies, dead.
The lifeless bodies of three babies, dressed in brightly colored clothing and looking almost as if they were sleeping, were carried carefully ashore Friday in Libya.
The coast guard returned the survivors to Tajoura, Libya, east of the capital. The civil-war torn African country is a major departure point for migrants fleeing violence in north Africa and the Middle East and heading to Europe via Italy, Spain or Greece.
The International Organization for Migration said about 40,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by maritime routes in 2018, nearly six times less than the same period in 2016. The U.N. agency called on countries in the Mediterranean region to assist the migrants and offer human rights protections.
“It is increasingly recognized that disembarkation cannot be the sole responsibility of one country or regional grouping,” the IOM said Friday. “It should be a shared responsibility across the Mediterranean Basin, with due respect for the safety and dignity of all people on the move. A comprehensive approach is required to realize effective and sustainable responses.”
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.
The European Union agreed Thursday to set up controlled migrant processing centers on a voluntary basis to help distinguish between legitimate asylum seekers and those who will be turned back.
The agreement came after a dispute among EU countries left two migrant ships stranded in the Mediterranean Sea for several days. Italy and Malta initially refused to allow the ships to dock in the two countries, though Malta eventually relented.
Close to 10,200 migrants have been taken back to Libya so far in 2018. More than 2,000 were returned by the Libyan coast guard last week.