In the third of FRANCE 24’s special reports from Libya, Catherine Norris Trent, Julie Dungelhoeff and Abdallah Malkawi expose the horrors suffered by migrants intercepted by Libyan authorities in the Mediterranean Sea and dispatched back to overcrowded Libyan detention centres.
Libyan coastguards are responding to an alert from Malta and Italy asking them to intercept a Europe-bound boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants, 126 adults and children, are crammed on a single raft. They have no food, water or life-jackets and they're desperate to make it to Europe, no matter the risk.
At first they believe the Libyan coastguard vessel is an NGO rescue boat. But when they realise they are being taken back to Libya, there are heartbreaking scenes on board the ship.
“I don’t want to go back to Libya! Please, I don’t want to return to Libya!” sobs Mona, clutching her head in distress.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants are trying to get to Europe from the North African country, but many are intercepted and forced to return.
Human rights groups have denounced their treatment and the legality of forcing them to return to Libya.
Embedded with the Libyan coastguard, FRANCE 24’s reporters managed to film officials and police cramming migrants into buses to send them to overcrowded detention centres,
Migrants are so distraught at the prospect of being returned to the Libyan capital, Tripoli they sometimes throw themselves back into the water to try to escape.
There are thousand migrants in Libya’s centres, according to the UN, but the real figure is believed to be much higher.
Text initially published on: France 24