TRIPOLI – About 100 migrants and refugees are missing and feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya, according to the Libyan coastguard.
Libya, with its weak central government and proximity to Italian territory, is increasingly becoming the preferred option for many refugees despite the dangers involved in crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The Libyan coastguard picked up 14 survivors from the boat just east of the capital, Tripoli, an official said on Friday.
The exact number of migrants aboard the boat at the time of the incident is not known yet.
The route from Libya through the Mediterranean to Italy and other European Union states drew nearly 120,000 people in 2017.
A boat packed with refugees and migrants sank off the coast of Tunisia in early June killing 112 people.
In February around 90 people drowned after a shipwreck off Libya’s western coast.
The International Organization for Migration describes the Mediterranean Sea as the world’s deadliest border. Last year, 3,116 people died trying to cross from North Africa to Europe, it said.
The latest development comes as European leaders reached a deal early on Friday to establish “controlled centres” in member states to determine the eligibility for asylum of migrants and refugees who reached Europe.
Following the announcement, the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, criticised the European deal on Friday saying, it aims to “block people at the doorstep of Europe”.