United Nations refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi, on Friday condemned a shipwreck in the Mediterranean which over 100 migrants are feared to have died, doubling down on UNCHR's demand that Europe safeguard migrants and refugees.
“The worst Mediterranean tragedy of the year has just occurred," Grandi said in a statement.
"Restoring rescue at sea, an end to refugee and migrant detention in Libya, increasing safe pathways out of Libya must happen now before it is too late for many more desperate people.”
Grandi called on European Union countries to offer more resettlement places and other safe routes out of Libya "for people who are vulnerable and at risk".
"Such actions are just as important as sea rescues for saving lives," he said, urging more action to arrest and bring to trial the traffickers behind the lethal boat crossings and to "overturn the business model on which they rely".
Thursday's shipwreck takes the death toll of Mediterranean migrants to over 600 this year, putting 2019 on track to be the sixth year in a row with more than 1,000 deaths, UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley said.
The UN migration agency, the International Organisation for Migration, cited survivors from the shipwreck, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, as saying 250 people were on the boat before it capsized off the coast of Khums after engine failure. Women and children were among those feared drowned, according to the IOM.
A total of 145 survivors returned to the Libyan shore, the IOM tweet said.