More than 100 feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck

White flag with red logo of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) against sunny blue sky

© Valérie Batselaere/MSF

Julien Raickman, Libya head of mission for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), gave the following statement today in response to a shipwreck in the central Mediterranean:

"The horrific news of a major shipwreck today only continues to highlight the extremely high human cost of the current situation in Libya and of the lack of rescue capacity in the central Mediterranean.

"Over 100 people are missing, many feared drowned in today's shipwreck off Libya, according to the first accounts of survivors treated by MSF teams in Libya. The survivors were rescued by fishermen and returned to Khoms. Eyewitness accounts of those involved in the rescue said there were at least 70 bodies in the water.

"Our teams provided medical care to two groups of survivors, which had 82 people and 53 people, respectively. We stabilized people with the most urgent needs and referred seven people for lifesaving hospital treatment. Patients are in shock and suffer from their near-drowning (hypoxia and hypothermia).

"To prevent further loss of life, an urgent response is needed to ensure search and rescue capacities at sea and evacuations out of the country for those attempting to flee Libya.

"Two days ago, 38 people intercepted in the central Mediterranean by the Libyan Coast Guard were taken back to a detention center in Tajoura that just three weeks earlier was hit by an airstrike leaving 60 dead and 70 wounded. It was a completely avoidable tragedy.

"We are now extremely concerned about the survivors of this latest shipwreck. They cannot be placed in detention centers where their lives are at risk. This was most recently reiterated by International Organizations for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, and EU leaders who join MSF in the call for the immediate and urgent evacuation of all refugees and migrants held in detention centers across Libya."