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5 dead, 674 rescued from the Mediterranean 

Refugees are seen after they were rescued on the Sea-Watch 3 boat wrapped in blankets and sleeping on deck
Refugees wrapped in blankets and sleeping on deck after they were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea, 24 July 2022 [Sea-Watch International/Twitter]

Five bodies have been recovered and 674 people rescued from an overcrowded fishing boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.

German charity Sea-Watch International said they rescued a further 428 refugees attempting to cross from North Africa.

The Italian coastguard said there had been a series of rescues over the past several days in the Mediterranean.

This year 1,234 people have died or are missing at sea, 823 in the Central Mediterranean, according to the United Nations.

At least 19,673 people have gone missing on the Central Mediterranean route since 2014, the deadliest migration route there is.

Whilst most people tried to cross in 2015 at the peak of the refugee crisis, when one million made the journey, the UN's refugee agency has said that journeys are becoming more fatal.

READ; 'NATO listing African migrants as 'threat' consequence of Europe's outsourced border policy'

Even more people may have died or are missing in the Sahara Desert and remote border areas where they take the land route to attempt to get to Europe.

Refugees using either route are at high risk of abuse from people smugglers, though given the lack of safe routes available they often have no other choice but to put their lives in their hands.

As Europe struggled with a heatwave last week, dangers increased with people making the journey having no access to water or protection from the sun which can lead to heat stroke and dehydration.

The UNHCR has said that the situation is a "widespread, longstanding and largely overlooked tragedy," with many fleeing conflict, violence, or persecution.

In December last year more than 160 people drowned in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya. As authorities cracked down on refugees in Tripoli, the number of people attempting to cross shot up.

Last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on European Union governments to protect the lives and rights of people along the central Mediterranean route, including overhauling its cooperation with Libya to protect human rights.

The Libyan coastguard has returned thousands of people to Libya where they are at risk of being detained in horrific detention centres and being recruited into forced labour.

READ: 1 dead after 3 migrant boats sink off Tunisia

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