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Red Crescent: the bodies of 27 migrants wash up in Libya

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Red Crescent: the bodies of 27 migrants wash up in Libya

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Libyan Red Crescent says at least 27 bodies of migrants bound for Europe, including a baby and two women, have washed up in the west of the country

CAIRO – The bodies of 27 migrants bound for Europe, including a baby and two women, have washed up in western Libya, the country’s Red Crescent has said.

The bodies were found on Saturday evening in two separate locations in the coastal town of Khoms, the Red Crescent branch said there. Three other migrants were rescued and search efforts are underway for others, he said.

The Red Crescent, a Muslim organization equivalent to the Red Cross, has released images claiming to show bodies floating in the Mediterranean Sea with its workers putting them in black burial bags.

The dead migrants probably drowned in recent shipwrecks off Libya. There has been an increase in crossings and attempted crossings from Libya as authorities ramped up their deadly crackdown on migrants in the capital Tripoli.

Around 1,500 migrants have drowned in numerous boat accidents and shipwrecks on the route through the central Mediterranean this year, according to the United Nations Migration Agency.

Earlier this month, more than 160 migrants drowned in two separate shipwrecks off the North African nation, the International Organization for Migration said.

Libya was in turmoil over the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The North African nation has since become a popular, albeit extremely dangerous, route to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war in Africa and the Middle East.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos in the oil-rich country and smuggled migrants across the country’s long border with six nations. They embark desperate migrants in ill-equipped inflatable boats, then embark on risky journeys across the perilous Mediterranean Sea.

Those returned were taken to detention centers plagued by abuse, including forced labor, beatings, rape and torture. The abuses often accompany efforts to extort money from families before migrants are allowed to leave Libya on the traffickers’ boats.

UN-commissioned investigators said in October they had found that the practice of arbitrary disappearances and violence against migrants inside Libyan prisons could constitute crimes against humanity.

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