“They saw loved ones disappear under their waves, die before their eyes. ” The testimony of the Médecins sans frontières (MSF) teams, based in the Libyan coastal town of Sorman, in the northeast of the country, describes the state of shock in which they took in three women rescued by local fishermen and ” only survivors of another shipwreck where 20 people drowned ” off the Libyan coast.
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This tragedy of illegal immigration reported by the NGO on its Twitter account on the night of Thursday 12 to Friday 13 November, is the second disaster in this region.
Our Sorman teams in #Libya helped 3 women, the only survivors of another shipwreck where 20 people drowned. Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified; they saw loved ones disappear under the waves, die before their eyes. https://t.co/FZbpAeS3sV
– MSF France (@MSF_france) November 13, 2020
A few hours earlier, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced a death toll of at least 74 dead in another shipwreck, this time off the Libyan coastal town of Khoms, some 180 kilometers to the east. by Sorman.
In all, 47 survivors who undertook this perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to reach the Italian coasts and Europe were brought ashore by the Libyan coast guards and fishermen.
On Thursday, the lifeless bodies recovered or washed up were lined up on the shore of an azure sea, some still wearing life jackets. Images which aroused emotion and indignation.
Survivors huddled under blankets, eyes betraying exhaustion and worry, as aid workers distributed water and food packages, in front of a crude small concrete block construction.
A frail-looking migrant was showing his refugee card to the camera. Eyes vague, chin resting in the palm of his hand, his traveling companion was bundled up in a gray blanket bearing the logo of a humanitarian association.
Libya, a major immigration route to Europe
Since the start of the year, more than 11,000 people have been sent back to Libya, a rich oil country in Africa mired in conflict, “At the risk of exposing them to human rights violations, detention, abuse, (human) trafficking and exploitation”, denounced the IOM.
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Despite persistent insecurity since 2011, Libya remains a major migratory route for thousands of migrants, largely African, having fled desperation, poverty-stricken and corruption-stricken attempts to reach Europe, often at the cost of a long and random odyssey.
After the shipwrecks on Thursday, IOM called for “Re-establish rescue at sea” and to “End the detention of refugees and migrants in Libya”.