Twenty-two people from Mali, including three children, have died in a boat disaster off the coast of Libya, the United Nations and the Malian government have confirmed.
The people who died were part of a group of 83, most of them Malian nationals, stuck on a distressed vessel since June 22, the Ministry of Malians Abroad said in a statement on Tuesday.
The ministry and the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 61 were rescued with the help of the Libyan coastguard and brought back to the shore on Saturday after nine days at sea.
IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli said the cause of death for the 22 people was drowning and dehydration, according to survivors.
Msehli also said some of the survivors were in very poor health and had to be taken to hospital by the IOM.
“The remaining migrants were taken to al-Maya detention centre” in Libya, she said.
The latest tragedy comes amid concerns that a hunger crisis arising from the war in Ukraine could stoke an increase in attempts to reach Europe by people fleeing poverty, conflict and persecution.
In addition to the fallout of the war, analysts have also cited the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as a driving factor.