Libya has long been a country of transit for migrants wanting to reach Europe.
The IOM currently estimates that there are more than 650,000 migrants from 40 countries in Libya. These migrants are often housed in terrible living conditions, subject to physical abuse and beatings, and risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean often in rickety boats.
The shooting occurred last week southwest of Tripoli where a group of migrants were being held. Out of the group, 30 were killed and 11 migrants sustained severe injuries.
“This senseless crime is a bleak reminder of the horrors migrants have to endure at the hands of smugglers and traffickers in Libya… These criminal groups are taking advantage of the instability and security situation to prey on desperate people and exploit their vulnerabilities.”
IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda
Libya is currently in the midst of a brutal civil war ongoing since 2014 and is also grappling with the coronavirus pandemic which has spread towards southern Libya in recent days. As this conflict continues conditions for migrants and displaced persons are quickly deteriorating with those intercepted or rescued, and returned to Libya being taken to unofficial detention centres where they are at risk of being trafficked. The IOM reports of disappearances from these facilities and an inability to account for hundreds to thousands of persons.
The IOM is calling on Libyan authorities to immediately launch an investigation to bring those responsible for this killing to justice. This has been followed by Eurojust’s response to launch a new initiative to tackle migrant smuggling criminal networks which operate across countries and continents:
“Smuggling of migrants is not only a crime against international conventions and the interest of the states to control and protect their borders, but also a crime against human dignity, because smugglers exploit vulnerable individuals and their expectations for a better life.”
Filippo Spiezia, vice-president of Eurojust.