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100 feared dead after migrant ship sinks off Libya coast

By Danielle Haynes
Members of a humanitarian organization observe an empty rubber boat used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea. A similar vessel capsized this week off the coast of Libya, killing an estimated 100 migrants. File Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE
Members of a humanitarian organization observe an empty rubber boat used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea. A similar vessel capsized this week off the coast of Libya, killing an estimated 100 migrants. File Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE

June 29 (UPI) -- Libya's coast guard rescued more than a dozen survivors from a capsized migrant boat, which officials fear left at least 100 people, including three babies, dead.

The migrants departed Libya on a rubber dingy, though it's unclear when. Survivors estimated there were 120 people on board the vessel, which capsized off the coast of Tripoli.

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The coast guard returned the survivors to Tajoura, Libya, east of the capital. The African country is a major departure point for migrants fleeing violence in north Africa and the Middle East.

The International Organization for Migration said about 40,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by maritime routes in 2018, nearly six times less than the same period in 2016. The U.N. agency called on countries in the Mediterranean region to assist the migrants and offer human rights protections.

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"It is increasingly recognized that disembarkation cannot be the sole responsibility of one country or regional grouping," the IOM said Friday. "It should be a shared responsibility across the Mediterranean Basin, with due respect for the safety and dignity of all people on the move. A comprehensive approach is required to realize effective and sustainable responses."

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The European Union agreed Thursday to set up controlled migrant processing centers on a voluntary basis to help distinguish between legitimate asylum seekers and those who will be turned back.

The agreement came after a dispute among EU countries left two migrant ships stranded in the Mediterranean Sea for several days. Italy and Malta initially refused to allow the ships to dock in the two countries, though Malta eventually relented.

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