GENEVA, FEBRUARY 2 – At least 90 migrants are reported to have drowned, after a smuggler’s boat carrying mostly Pakistani migrants capsized off Libya’s coast early this morning. According to IOM Libya’s Olivia Headon, 10 bodies are reported to have washed near the Libyan town of Zuwara – two Libyans and eight Pakistani nationals. Two survivors are reported to have swam to shore, while another was rescued by a fishing boat, Headon said. IOM is working to get more details of the tragedy and to see how best to assist survivors, she continued.
“According to IOM records, some 29 Libyans were rescued or intercepted in all of 2017, but we estimate the true figure to be much higher,” said Headon. The United Nations is investigating a sudden increase in Pakistani migrants trying to make the perilous sea crossing to Europe, its migration agency said. Mohammad Faisal, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Officer, said in a post on Twitter that Pakistan’s embassy in Libya was investigating but that 11 Pakistanis were believed to have drowned, according to initial reports.
Most migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, usually Italy, are from sub-Saharan West African countries. In 2017, the 3,138 Pakistani migrants arriving by sea to Italy from Libya were 13th in the overall list of total migrant arrivals (119,369). .But this year though, they already are the third highest nationality so far, with an estimated 240 reaching Italy in January. In comparison, only nine Pakistanis arrived in Italy by sea in January 2017. (@OnuItalia)