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17 Egyptians from Dahmasha village drown off Libya coast

Bodies of drowned refugees are found washed ashore in Libya's Zawiya on 22 February 2017 [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency ]

Seventeen Egyptians have drowned off the coast of Libya whilst attempting to get to Europe, according to their families.

The men were all from the village of Dahmasha in Sharkia Govornorate.

Their family became aware of the accident after a Libyan citizen contacted them with photographs of the missing people, according to what they told Alarabiya.

They are calling on the Egyptian government to intervene and pressure Libya to search for their bodies and release the survivors.

On Saturday 12 September the men set off from Libya, bound for Italy.

Then two days later the International Organisation for Migration announced that at least 24 people, mainly from Egypt and Morocco, had drowned off the Libyan coast after the boat capsized.

READ: Protests against Sisi’s rule break out across Egypt

Libya’s coast guard intercepted three boats, including the capsized vessel.

At the time, two bodies were found. The 45 survivors told them that 22 people were missing.

Libya is a major launchpad for refugees attempting to get to Europe. Smugglers have taken advantage of the vacuum which followed the 2011 Libyan Spring and the killing of Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2016 and the rise of far-right populist parties with an anti-immigrant agenda, EU member states have collaborated with the Libya coast guard to return these refugees to Libya.

The following year, the number of people reaching Italy reduced but the number of people dying in the sea rose.

Libya’s coast guard has sabotaged rescue efforts by NGOs and volunteer rescue boats and has been accused of being part of smuggling networks.

Human Rights Watch has said that Libya’s coast guard has facilitated the detention of tens of thousands of men, women and children in dire conditions where they face abuse such as forced labour and torture.

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