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REFUGEE rights and rescue organisations have reacted with horror to reports that 30 people were shot dead in one of Libya’s unofficial migrant detention centres this week.
The UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) announced the killings yesterday afternoon, the day after they took place.
The attack was carried out in a smuggling warehouse near Gharyan, a city south-west of Tripoli, the GNA said and was carried out in revenge over the death of a smuggler killed by migrants.
Eleven migrants who survived the attack were rushed to hospital.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday that it “deplored” the killings and called on the authorities to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice.
“This senseless crime is a bleak reminder of the horrors migrants have to endure at the hands of smugglers and traffickers in Libya,” said IOM Libya chief of mission Federico Soda.
“These criminal groups are taking advantage of the instability and security situation to prey on desperate people and exploit their vulnerabilities.”
The IOM estimates that 3,980 refugees who attempted to flee the country so far this year have been returned by the Libyan Coastguard. Nineteen people have drowned and at least 130 are still missing in the central Mediterranean.
Alarm Phone, an activist network providing assistance to refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean, said today that it had been contacted by nine boats over the past six days.
“Three boats made it to Italy. Two were rescued by Malta but forced into ‘water prisons’,” the activists tweeted today, referring to Malta’s policy of holding at least 160 rescued refugees offshore on tourist boats.
“Four were returned to Libya. Of the [around] 660 people who called us, [around] 315 reached Europe and [around] 345 were sent back to a warzone.”
Rescue ships Alan Kurdi and Aita Mari remain locked up in Italy having saved close to 200 lives over Easter.
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