In a statement, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said some 37 survivors – mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana – were rescued by local fishermen and were later detained upon disembarkation.
At least 45 others including five children lost their lives when the engine of the vessel they were on board exploded off the coast of Zwara.
Both agencies are calling for a review of States’ approach to the situation after this latest tragic incident in the Mediterranean while urging for the need to strengthen the current search and rescue capacity to respond to distress calls.
“There remains a continued absence of any dedicated, EU-led search and rescue programme. We fear that without an urgent increase in search and rescue capacity, is a risk of another disaster similar to incidents that saw large loss of life on the Central Mediterranean prior to the launch of Mare Nostrum,” UNHCR said in the statement.
“We are deeply concerned by recent delays in rescue and disembarkation. We urge states to swiftly respond to these incidents and systematically provide a predictable port of safety to people rescued at sea,” the UN agencies said in the statement.
The shipwreck was the latest maritime disaster involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Most migrants make the perilous journey in ill-equipped and unsafe rubber boats. The IOM said in March that its estimated death toll among migrants who tried to cross the Mediterranean passed the “grim milestone” of 20,000 deaths since 2014.
So far, more than 7,000 people were returned to Libya by Libya’s coast guard and at least 302 migrants and refugees perished this year, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project and UNHCR, adding that the current estimated number of fatalities could likely be much higher.