EXCLUSIVE: The Mediterranean’s grim tide – shocking never before seen pictures of migrants’ bodies washed up on beach in Libya
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Bodies of hundreds of migrants who drowned trying to reach Europe by sea are washing up on Libyan beaches
- Volunteers from the Libyan Red Crescent Society collect the remains every day along a 100-mile coastline stretch
- Remains, some just piles of bones, handed to authorities who record the deaths and bury them in unmarked graves
The dead bodies of desperate migrants who were bundled onto overcrowded boats destined for Europe, which capsized killing those on board, are washing up on Libya’s beaches.
Their bones, half submerged in the sand, will be buried in unmarked graves, their relatives unaware their loved ones have perished.
Volunteers from Libyan Red Crescent Society collect the bodies which were swallowed and spat out by the Mediterranean Sea as they risked their lives on the perilous journey from Libya bound for the island of Lampedusa off the Italian coast.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 men, women and children who were able to survive treacherous journeys to Europe continued to be rescued off the coasts of Italy and Greece each day.
Remains: Some of the bodies have been reduced to just piles of bones after they were swallowed and spat out by the Mediterranean sea
Bodies: Migrants desperate to reach Europe take on the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean but hundreds of their bodies have washed up on the beaches of Libya
Heartbreaking: Many migrants are forced to board dilapidated boats with their children, knowing that they may not reach their destination
Buried: The migrants’ bones poke out from under the sand after they drowned while desperately trying to flee their war-torn homelands
Shocking new photographs taken in Zuwara, on the west coast of Libya close to the Tunisian border, show the true extent of the migrant crisis.
Bodies, some of which are barely more than a pile of bones, are being picked up on a 100-mile stretch of the war-torn country from Garaboli to Zuwara.
One heartbreaking picture is of a skeleton, which has been washed up on the beach with the still wearing the pair of yellow trousers and black leather belt they set off in.
Taha Sultan, head of health at Libyan Red Crescent Society, an organisation working on the ground to help the country’s vulnerable population, said hundreds of bodies had been washing up over the past year.
Speaking to MailOnline from Benghazi in the east of the country, he said: ‘We have been dealing with this for more than a year along the west coast.
‘It happens every day. These kind of things happen all the time in Libya.’
Desperate: More than 1,000 people are rescued off the coasts of Italy and Greece every day, but many don’t manage to finish their journeys
Unidentified: Bodies of the migrants are collected by volunteers along the Libyan coastline and are buried by authorities in the country
Record highs: The number of migrants who have successfully arrived in Europe by sea so far this year is already approaching 250,000
Explaining the mindset of the people who board the boats, sometimes with their young families, Mr Sultan said: ‘People are desperate to leave because it’s dangerous, or they fear for their lives.
‘We have war – people get killed and there is no help coming. We also have ISIS here now. It’s very dangerous to live here.’
Libya is split between two governments backed by armed factions fighting each other but which control limited territory.
Islamic State and other armed groups have exploited a growing security vacuum on the ground to expand.
Libya Dawn, an alliance of armed groups, drove the internationally recognised government out of the capital, Tripoli, and declared its own government a year ago, leaving the oil-rich country on the verge of anarchy.
Libya: Bodies are washing up on a 100-mile stretch of the west of the war-torn country from Garaboli to Zuwara, near the Tunisian border
Volunteers: Workers from the Libyan Red Crescent Society, an organisation working on the ground, are collecting more bodies every day
Tragedy: Many of the migrants attempting to gain access to Europe are fleeing violence, natural disasters and poverty in their homelands
Mr Sultan said that those who try to leave the country by legal means are unable to get visas, so opt for dangerous trips across the sea on rickety ships.
Migrants who have arrived in Italy say human traffickers based in lawless Libya charge them between £770 and £1,150 for a place on the deck of boats. Those crammed in the hold pay about half as much as those above.
On Saturday, more than 40 migrants died in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast after suffocating below the deck of an overcrowded boat.
The vessel was carrying around 400 people when it was intercepted south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Footage of the rescue showed two navy vessels helping men, women and children off the dangerously overcrowded ship.
The boat was ‘starting to sink’ when it was spotted by an Italian navy helicopter, around 21 miles off the Libyan coast.
Rescuers discovered the dead migrants when the boarded the boat.
Collected: The bodies are removed from the beaches and are handed over to the authorities in the country to be buried in unmarked graves
Deaths: On Saturday, 40 migrants died off the Libyan coast after suffocating below the deck of an overcrowded boat, carrying 400 people
Frequent loss: Hundreds of bodies of migrants have washed up on the beaches of the western coast of Libya over the past year
Survivors of such hazardous journeys have told of how traffickers lock migrants who paid less for the journey in the hold underneath.
These people endure extreme heat in the ship’s hold and there is a high risk of death if it capsizes.
And around 200 migrants were presumed killed earlier this month off the coast of Libya when their boat capsized.
According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of migrants and asylum seekers who have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year is approaching 250,000.
The death toll has risen to at least 2,300, but the figure is likely to be higher because some of the dead are never recovered.
Mr Sultan explained that the bodies are handed over to authorities, which photograph them and document the deaths before burying them.
More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel of Sicily from Libya to reach safety in Italy so far this year.
Death toll: At least 2,300 migrants are known to have died this year while trying to reach Europe by sea, but the real figure will be higher
Frequent fatalities: About 200 migrants were presumed killed earlier this month off the Libyan coastline when their boat capsized
Route: An estimated 102,000 migrants have successfully crossed the Channel of Sicily from Libya to reach safety in Italy this year