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NEW YORK: More than 200 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean in the past three days, bringing the overall death toll so far this year to more than 1,000, the International Organisa­tion for Migration (IOM) reported on Monday.

The tragic weekend began Friday with the deaths of an estimated 103 people, including three babies, when the rubber dinghy they were on sank off the coast of Libya, the report said.

The Libyan Coast Guard rescued 16 survivors: young men from the Gambia, Sudan, Yemen, Niger and Guinea.

The incident was followed on Sunday by the capsizing of a small rubber boat off the Libyan port city of Al Khums, east of the capital, Tripoli. The vessel was packed with migrants and while 41 people survived, 100 are reported missing, the press statement said.

During this same time period, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted several small vessels heading towards the open sea, returning nearly 1,000 migrants to shore.

The people were provided with food, water and health care, as well as other emergency assistance, and were interviewed by IOM staff.

They were later transferred to detention centres, where IOM continues to provide humanitarian assistance.

The Libyan Coast Guard has returned some 10,000 people to shore so far this year, according to IOM. Othman Belbeisi, its Libya Chief of Mission, reported an “alarming increase” in deaths at sea.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018