Three Sudanese migrants were killed on the night of Monday July 27 to Tuesday 28 at a disembarkation point on the Libyan coast, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday, demanding the opening of an “urgent investigation”.
UNHCR “Deplores the tragic loss of three people and calls for an urgent investigation” following the “Gunfire at the al-Khoms landing point in Libya last night after a boat was intercepted by the Libyan coast guard”, he said in a statement, adding that the shooting took place after the disembarkation of more than 70 people.
The three victims were Sudanese, UNHCR said. Two died on the spot but the third, the statement said, being taken in by an International Rescue Committee (IRC) ambulance, died while being transferred to hospital. The shooting also left two injured. “The other people who were disembarked were taken into custody”, the UN agency said.
“Solidarity between coastal states”
For its part, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement that several of its employees had reported that “Local authorities started shooting when migrants tried to escape from the disembarkation point”.
“The use of excessive violence once again results in an absurd loss of life, against a background of a lack of action to change a system that is often lacking to provide some level of protection,” commented Federico Soda, head of the IOM mission in Libya, quoted in the statement.
“This incident starkly underscores that Libya is not a safe port for disembarkation,” noted Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s special envoy for the situation in the central Mediterranean, quoted in his organization’s press release.
He judged “Necessary to increase search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean, including with NGO vessels, in order to increase the likelihood of rescue operations leading to landings at safe ports outside Libya”. And to call for the strengthening of “Solidarity between the coastal states of the Mediterranean”.
Migrant departures from the Libyan coast increased by nearly 300% between January and April 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the UN. More than 100,000 migrants attempted to cross the Mediterranean in 2019 and more than 1,200 perished at sea, according to IOM.