Cyprus Mail
Middle East

Bodies of 74 migrants found on west Libyan beach

African migrants wait to return to their countries, at Mitiga International Airport, east of Tripoli

The bodies of 74 migrants have been found washed up on a beach near the western Libyan city of Zawiya, a Red Crescent spokesman said on Tuesday.

Spokesman Mohamed al-Misrati said the bodies had been recovered on Monday and that the migrants appeared to have died during the past two days. They were all adults, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, and all but three were men, he said.

The Red Crescent published pictures of the bodies laid out in white and black body bags along the beach.

Libya is the main departure point for migrants hoping to reach Europe by sea. They generally attempt the crossing in flimsy inflatable craft loaded with small amounts of fuel which are intended to get them only as far as European rescue vessels stationed in international waters.

Most depart from the stretch of Libyan coast between Tripoli and the Tunisian border to the west. The bodies of those who drown are frequently found washed up on Libyan shores.

Last year a record 181,000 migrants crossed between Libya and Italy. More than 4,500 are known to have died.

Having largely closed off sea crossings between Turkey and Greece last year, the European Union is searching for ways to stem the flow of migrants from Libya.

This month European leaders offered Libya money and other assistance to try to reduce the numbers departing across the Mediterranean. Aid groups criticised the move, saying such plans exposed migrants to further risks and abuses within Libya.

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