At least 61 migrants are unaccounted for and presumed deceased following the sinking of their boat off the coast of Libya, as reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Saturday. This marks the latest tragic incident in the perilous journeys undertaken by migrants off North Africa.

The casualties are believed to be a result of high waves that engulfed their vessel after it departed from Zuwara on Libya’s northwest coast, according to a statement from the IOM’s Libya office provided to AFP. Survivors indicate that approximately 86 migrants, including women and children from Nigeria, the Gambia, and other African countries, were on board.

Twenty-five individuals were successfully rescued and transported to a Libyan detention center, as reported by the IOM. The survivors, who are all in good condition, received medical assistance from IOM personnel.

Libya and Tunisia serve as primary departure points for migrants undertaking perilous sea journeys in the hope of reaching Europe, particularly via Italy. The United Nations refugee agency indicates that over 153,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year from Tunisia and Libya.

Last year, Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who won the elections, pledged to curb illegal migration. The hard-right government, led by Meloni, has implemented various measures to restrict the activities of charity ships involved in rescuing individuals attempting the hazardous crossing from North Africa.

During a recent visit to Rome, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised Meloni’s approach to addressing illegal migration. Both leaders committed to preventing migrant boat landings on their countries’ shores and intensifying efforts to combat human smugglers.

The central Mediterranean migration route has been labeled by the United Nations as the world’s deadliest, resulting in hundreds of fatalities annually. Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesperson, highlighted on the social media platform X that over 2,250 people lost their lives this year on the central Mediterranean migrant route, underscoring the urgent need for increased efforts to save lives at sea.

On June 14, the Adriana, a fishing boat carrying 750 people from Libya to Italy, sank in international waters off southwest Greece. The majority of passengers were Syrians, Pakistanis, and Egyptians. Of the 186 on board, only 104 survived, and 82 bodies were recovered.

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