Libya’s Red Crescent has said that 74 bodies of refugees have washed ashore in the western city of Zawiya on the Mediterranean Sea.
The aid organisation’s spokesman Mohammed al-Misrati told the AP news agency that the bodies washed ashore on Tuesday morning.
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The agency posted on its Twitter account photographs of dozens of bodies in white and black body bags, lined up along the shore.
— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) February 20, 2017
Misrati also said that local authorities will take the bodies to a cemetery in the capital, Tripoli, that is allocated for unidentified persons.
Controversial new plan
Earlier this month, European Union leaders agreed on a controversial new plan to help stem the flow of refugees from the North African country.
Under the new plan, the bloc would provide Libya’s government with funds to increase efforts to stop refugee boats from crossing territorial waters, and to “break the business model” of traffickers who helped 181,000 refugees enter the EU through Libya and Italy last year.
The announcement received a backlash from human rights groups who said such plans exposed refugees to further risks and abuses.
Migrant deaths have risen to record levels along the Libya-Italy smuggling route across the Mediterranean Sea.
An estimated 230 people, not including the 74 found on Tuesday, have died en route to Europe since the start of 2017, according to the United Nations.
More than 4,500 people died attempting the crossing last year.