At least 13 migrants drown after a boat capsizes off Libyan coast

The rescue ship "Eleonore" sails on the Mediterranean with around 100 migrants on board. The "Eleonore" took in the migrants, off the Libyan coast, on 26.08.2019 /Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: A rescue operation off the coast of Libya. (Photo by Fabrizio Villa “2013 Getty Images)”

At least 13 migrants drowned after a boat they were traveling in capsized off the coast of Libya on Tuesday.

The victims included three women and one child, Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, said.

About two dozen migrants were on the boat which left the western town of Zuwara on Monday night.

According to IOM staff, 11 other people were rescued and returned to shore by the coast guard, Msehli added.

The IOM has repeatedly raised concerns that migrants, who were rescued or intercepted off the Libyan coast, are likely to be returned to detention centres in the North African country where they will face exploitation and abuse, which they had sought to flee from.

Libya is a major passage route for migrants attempting to cross into Europe and remains vulnerable to several militias jostling for control of the country’s oil wealth.

The Mediterranean Sea is the most preferred route by migrants from Africa, mostly from Libya, who attempt to get into Europe through Italy and Malta.

Thousands of people have died while attempting to make the dangerous crossing.