Libya

Libyan coastguards kill 'escaping Sudanese migrant'

A Libyan coast guard watches over migrants in a boat west of the capital, Tripoli - 2017 - archive shot
AFP
The Libyan coastguard intercepts thousands of migrants heading to Europe each year

A Sudanese migrant who was trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe has been shot and killed by Libyan coastguards after being taken back to Libya, the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said.

The man was part of a group of more than 100 people who were returned to shore on Thursday at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in the capital, Tripoli, but resisted being sent back to detention centres.

The IOM said that when people began running away, shots were fired. One bullet hit the man, who later died from his injuries.

The UN organisation condemned the incident and demanded that the Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

"The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff," the AFP news agency quotes the IOM's Leonard Doyle as saying.

"Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission," he said.

The Libyan Coast Guard said it had picked up nearly 500 migrants from the sea in areas near Tripoli in the last six days and returned them to shore.

UN renews Libyan mission amid ceasefire efforts

Nada Tawfik

BBC News

Fighters loyal the UN-backed government in Tripoli, Libya - 7 September 2019
Getty Images
Libya has many armed militias who nominally back two centres of political power in the east and west

The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of the support mission in Libya (Unsmil) by a year in an effort to assist the country's severely damaged political transition and to try and deliver a ceasefire.

It comes after the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, warned that the country was on the verge of descending into an all-out war that could lead to its possible permanent division.

Mr Salamé said the fighting was fuelled by foreign military support for the two main warring parties - in violation of a UN arms embargo.

The UN Security Council reiterated its call for all parties to commit to a lasting ceasefire and expanded Unsmil's role to provide support for such a truce.

It expressed concern over ongoing hostilities in and around the capital, Tripoli, which began in April when eastern forces under the command of Gen Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take control of the city from the UN-backed government.

Opposing factions, including extremist groups, have battled for control of Libya since 2011 when long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown.

Gen Haftar enjoys some support from France, the US and Russia.

The UN resolution called on countries to not intervene in the conflict.

Rwanda agrees deal to host migrants trapped in Libya

Rescued migrants receive food aid at a coastguard point in Khoms, Libya - 27 August 2019
Getty Images
Many migrants attempt to make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean to reach Europe

A deal for Rwanda to host hundreds of African migrants currently being held in Libya has been signed by the Rwandan government, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the African Union (AU).

"A first group of 500 people, predominantly from the Horn of Africa, will be evacuated, including children and youth at risk," a joint statement says.

The evacuation flights for those willing to go to Rwanda were expected to begin in the coming weeks, it added.

Thousands of migrants head to Libya each year to try and make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean to reach Europe - those who fail or are caught by the authorities when they arrive end up in detention centres.

According to the joint statement, about 4,700 people are currently estimated to be held in "dire conditions" inside these centres.

Rwanda made the offer to give refuge to migrants in November 2017 after CNN released a video showing men being auctioned off as farm workers in Libya.

The policy of housing migrants within Africa is one way the EU is using to stop African migrants from arriving on its shores.

Options for the migrants would be worked out by the UNHCR once they arrived in Rwanda, the statement said.

"While some may benefit from resettlement to third countries, others will be helped to return to countries where asylum had previously been granted, or to return to their home countries if it is safe to do so.

"Some may be given permission to remain in Rwanda subject to agreement by the competent authorities."

A similar deal exists between the EU and Niger, where migrants from Libya are hosted as they wait to be processed before being granted passage to Europe, Camille Le Coz, from the Migration Policy Institute, told the BBC's Newsday programme.

She agreed little was also known about how the country stood to benefit from the deal, apart from the prestige of demonstrating solidarity with fellow Africans.

The UNHCR says over the last two years it has evacuated more than 4,440 migrants out of Libya, which has been turmoil since long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed in 2011.

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G7 urged to stabilise Libya 'to end terrorism'

BBC World Service

Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
Reuters
President Kaboré made the plea at the G7 summit in France

The president of Burkina Faso says the international community needs to focus on ending the instability in Libya in order to stop terrorism spreading across the region.

Speaking at the G7 summit in France, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré also said that to bring peace to Africa's Sahel region, international partners needed to invest in development as well as in a military solution.

Since the overthrow of Libya's long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi nine years ago, weapons looted from the North African nation have been used by jihadists and militias across the Sahel region and the insecurity is getting worse every month.

President Kaboré said that if Libya was stabilised then the international fight against the Islamist militants would be more effective.

Mr Kaboré called for the counter-terrorism force operating in the region - known as the G5 - to be properly funded.

The mission has been undermined by a shortage of funds and a lack of training and equipment.

Last week, at least 24 soldiers were killed in the north of Burkina Faso when jihadists stormed a military base.

Nightmares plague Eritrean shipwreck survivors

Teklemariam Bekit

BBC Tigrinya

Bokuresion Tsegezeab (R) and Bekri Mohammed (third from L) and other Eritreans who survived the shipwreck in a hospital in Tripoli, Libya
Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bokuresion Tsegezeab (right) and Bekri Mohammed (third from left) with others from Eritrea who survived the wreck

Two Eritreans who survived one of the most deadly shipwrecks off Libya have told the BBC they still have nightmares about their horrific experience.

At least 115 people died when the vessel with about 300 migrants on board sank in July.

Bokuresion Tsegezeab and Bekri Mohammed, who are still in hospital in the capital Tripoli recovering from the ordeal, said they were desperate and disorientated when they decided to board the wooden ship.

They had been held for the last two years in a detention centre in al Khoms, some 120km (75 miles) east Tripoli, where they were locked up with little daylight.

“We boarded the ship to escape the dreadful life we experienced for the past two years,” says Mr Bokuresion.

The pair confirmed that they had paid the smugglers, but did not specify how much.

The smugglers had told them that the ship, which they boarded at about 23:00 local time one night in July, was in a suitable condition to cross the Mediterranean.

Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bokuresion Tsegezeab says a passing merchant ship refused to help when their vessel got into trouble

But three hours into their journey, water started seeping and then gushing into the ship.

“We tried to remove the water using buckets but quickly the water engulfed the ship,” said Mr Bokuresion.

A merchant ship was passing by at the time and everyone shouted for help, but it ignored their pleas, he said.

Then their vessel started to sink and break up prompting all on board to jump off into the sea.

No-one had life jackets so everyone was desperate to find something to hold on to in the water.

Bekri Mohammed
Bokuresion Tsegezeab
Bekri Mohammed says he cannot remember much about the ordeal after the ship went down

Mr Bokuresion said he first grabbed on to a small broken jerrycan but to stop himself being dragged down by others he moved to a piece of floating wood, which he managed to hold on to all night.

“I only survived because God wanted me to survive, because I never learnt how to swim.”

Mr Bekri admits he cannot remember much about the seven hours that passed before help arrived.

They were eventually rescued by passing fishermen who took them to a police station in Tripoli.

They needed immediate medical attention because they were all vomiting from all the water they had swallowed.

It has been a month since the shipwreck but the two friends are still traumatised and uncertain about their futures.

“I have not slept a good sleep since then. The faces of my friends and fellow travellers come to my dreams," says Mr Bokuresion.

“I am also worried about my life. What will happen to me? We don’t know what to do.”

Open Arms migrants try to swim to Lampedusa
Ten migrants jumped off a rescue ship, hoping to swim to the Italian island.

Fears for Ivorian migrants returned to Libya

BBC World Service

The UN has voiced concern for the safety of 36 migrants who have been turned away by the Tunisian authorities at the Libyan border.

The migrants, from Ivory Coast and include a number of children, were sent back into Libyan territory from the southern border area of Medenine.

The Tunisian government says they are not its responsibility.

Libya's geographical location and unstable political situation has made it a focus for migrants hoping to continue on to Europe.

Read: Self-immolation exposes UN failures in Libya

Migrants on a ship with a Libyan coastguard
AFP
Many migrants attempt the dangerous crossing from Libya over the Mediterranean to reach Europe