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Migrant Tragedy Raises the Alarm about Rescue Missions

At least 45 people including five children died earlier this week in the worst shipwreck reported so far this year off Libya’s coast. In a joint statement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said 37 survivors from Monday’s shipwreck reported that at least 45 others had died when the engine of the vessel they were aboard exploded off the coast of Zwara. The two agencies said the survivors, mostly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana, were rescued by local fishermen and later detained upon disembarkation. Following the tragic incident in the Mediterranean, the UNHCR and the IOM urgently called for a review of countries’ approach in their rescue efforts. On Tuesday, Alarm Phone – a hotline for migrant and refugee boats in distress – said it had alerted both the Libyan and Italian coastguards about the presence of about 100 people in a deflating rubber boat off the Libyan shore. Both authorities failed to intervene, according to Alarm Phone. At least 302 people have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year, including the latest tragedy – a number that soars to 20,000 when the overall deaths since 2014 are counted, according to the IOM.