About 400 migrants are feared dead after a boat that left Libya reportedly capsized off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Italian authorities were alerted to the tragedy by workers on oil platforms, who are reportedly helping survivors. Italian and Maltese naval ships are converging on the area.
It is the second tragedy in a week off the coast of Libya. About 40 migrants drowned in a capsizing last Tuesday.
For years, Libya has been a transit point for hundreds of thousands of Africans looking for a better life in Europe. Many cram into boats to attempt the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, to Malta or the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Libya's interim interior minister, Salah Mazek, threatened to actually help people reach Europe illegally, unless Brussels helps with the problem.
But it is not just Europe that has been criticised for its treatment of migrants. Australia has also come under scrutiny for its policy towards these people. They come mainly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran and travel by boat from Indonesia.
Inside Story looks at the politics behind why more isn't being done to help these migrants.
Presenter: Adrian Finigan
Jonathan Birdwell, head of the Citizens Programme at Demos
Claude Moraes, Labour member of the European Parliament
Bernd Hemingway, regional director for the European Economic Area, EU and NATO at the International Organisation for Migration
Source: Al Jazeera