According to the Libyan office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), people were detained off the country’s west coast, from where they wanted to flee to Europe by boat. Safa Mesli, an IOM spokeswoman in Geneva, said about 1,000 people had tried to leave Libya. IOM teams were on site to provide much needed assistance to the refugees. Mesli called for an end to the arrests of immigrants and refugees. “We reiterate the need to end arbitrary detentions,” the organization said.
The IOM has repeatedly condemned the inhumane conditions in prison camps for migrants and refugees in Libya. Prisoners are being mistreated, starving and sick. IOM is part of the United Nations, headquartered in Geneva.
According to the organization, at least 1,200 people were killed last year as they tried to cross the Mediterranean into Europe in mostly unseen boats. According to the Italian Interior Ministry, more than 6,400 refugees arrived in Italy in boats this year. It was under 2,800 at the same time in the previous year.
Libya as an important stop
Libya is one of the major transportation routes for Europeans. However, large numbers of refugees are being detained and brought back to North Africa, which has been in turmoil since the 2011 ouster of longtime ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Human rights groups have long condemned the deportation of migrants detained at sea to Libya. Among other things, they complain about the catastrophic conditions in the Libyan refugee camps and the imprisonment of migrants in irregular prisons.
Open weapons rescue migrants from distress at sea
Meanwhile, the Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” took 219 people aboard. The organization of the same name reported that the team rescued them from distress in the Maltese rescue zone in three missions within 24 hours. The 56 people rescued were minors, 17 of whom were under the age of ten. 13 women, two of whom are pregnant.
Rescuers of the Spanish organization have already taken nearly 40 refugees into the Mediterranean on Saturday. Two days earlier, aides had left the port city of Syracuse on their 82nd mission. Currently, many companies go to the Mediterranean and help migrants in distressed small boats. The actions are politically controversial.
kle / qu (afp, epd, dpa)