UNSMIL condemns killing of migrants in Sabratha, Libya

UN condemns killing of migrants in Sabratha, Libya

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned what it described as the “heinous murder of at least 15 migrants and asylum seekers” in the Libyan city of Sabratha (west).

Fifteen bodies, some of them burned, were discovered on the coast of Sabratha (70 kilometers from Tripoli), a major departure point for thousands of people attempting to reach the Italian coast each year.

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This tragedy “is a stark reminder of the lack of protection faced by migrants and asylum seekers in Libya, as well as the widespread human rights violations perpetrated by powerful trafficking and criminal networks,” the UN mission said.

According to local media, the migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were killed Thursday by gunfire following a dispute between smugglers.

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One of the groups of smugglers involved in the dispute then set fire to the boat on Friday, the same sources said.

The chaos that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 has made Libya a preferred route for tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Arab countries and South Asia, eager to reach Europe via Italy.

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These migrants fall prey to traffickers when they do not die attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean, and Libya is regularly criticized by NGOs for the mistreatment they receive.

Two governments supported by two rival camps in western and eastern Libya have been fighting for power since March.

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Since the beginning of the year, 14,157 migrants have been intercepted and returned to Libya, according to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released on Monday.

At least 216 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean and 724 are missing and presumed dead, according to the IOM.

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