Tripoli — SOME 900 people have lost their lives while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2019. This follows the drowning of an estimated 40 people off the coast of Libya in the latest boat disaster on Tuesday.
Over 60 survivors had been rescued and brought to shore in the coastal town of Al-Khoms, around 100 kilometres east of the war-torn capital Tripoli. A rescue operation, carried by the Libyan Coast Guard and local fisherman, had been underway since Tuesday morning.
"We must not simply accept these tragedies as inevitable," said Vincent Cochetel, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) special envoy for the Central Mediterranean.
"Sympathies must now become actions that prevent loss of life at sea, and prevent the loss of hope that motivates people to risk their lives in the first place."
The boat disaster came on the same day UNHCR's Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly Clements, visited Libya to assess the country's rising humanitarian needs.
Clements called for increased support to people affected by the ongoing violence, including refugees and migrants.
The envoy pledged UNHCR's commitment to work with Libyan authorities in setting up alternatives to detention for more than 4 800 refugees and migrants currently held inside detention centres.
With a maximum depth of more than 5 200 metres, the Mediterranean is infamously known as a graveyard because of the high number of deaths in recent years.