Rescued migrants forcibly removed from cargo ship in Libya
A group of over 70 migrants have been forcibly removed from a ship that rescued and taken them to the Libyan city of Misrata. The migrants had previously refused to disembark from the cargo ship since 10 November 2018, saying they had been imprisoned and tortured in Libya prior to their boat journey.
According to the UN, the migrants were from Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Somalia. News agencies reported that the migrants are now being placed in Libyan detention centres, where poor living conditions and abuse are widely known.
Some migrants had earlier said they would rather die than return to Libya. A Sudanese migrant, told Reuters that they would “agree to go to any place but not Libya.” Another migrant said he had been detained several times in Libya and his brother died there. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said, “We don’t want to go out in Libya. You can come and take my dead body outside.”
A Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, the Nivin, picked up the 93 migrants, including 28 minors after they were bypassed by six other ships.
“We called the emergency number saying we were on the rubber boat, which was already in very bad condition. Six ships passed by us that night and no one rescued us. They have seen us without saving our lives,” said a South Sudanese migrant in an interview with the Middle East Eye.
The ship was under tight security while the migrants remained on it. But the Libyan Red Crescent Society and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were given access to provide them with food and medical care. However, conditions on board were deteriorating due to the lack of sanitary provisions.
Amnesty International said the ship’s return to Libya “appears to be a clear breach of international law, given that Libya cannot be considered a safe place to disembark.”
In Libya, migrants are often put in detention and face inhumane conditions and treatment. Human rights organisations say that the decision of these migrants to barricade inside the ship reflects the situation in Libya. Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa director for Amnesty International, said the protest “gives a clear indication of the horrifying conditions refugees and migrants face in Libya’s detention centres, where they are routinely exposed to torture, rape, beatings, extortion, and other abuse.”
Aid agencies said the number of deaths in the Mediterranean this year has exceeded 2,000, more than half of them on the Libya-Italy sea route. Italy had decided in August 2018 to close its ports to rescue ships.
TMP – 27/11/2018
Photo: Middle East Eye. Migrants on board the Nivin cargo ship in the port of Misrata, Libya.