187 migrants were intercepted on May 27 by the Libyan coast guard | Photo: IOM Libya 2021
187 migrants were intercepted on May 27 by the Libyan coast guard | Photo: IOM Libya 2021

Almost 500 migrants were returned to Libya by the coast guard on Thursday. The International Organization for Migration said all were taken to detention centers.

The UN migration agency, IOM, said that 308 people, including five children, were intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on Thursday, May 27. The migrants had set off in three rubber boats and a wooden boat from the Libyan city of Zuwara, west of Tripoli. More than a hundred of the migrants were from Sudan.

Earlier the same day, another boat carrying 187 people was also intercepted. The IOM said that they were provided with emergency assistance before being taken into detention centers.

'Reckless and violent'

According to the UN, coordination between EU member states and institutions and the Libyan coast guard "ultimately works to effectively 'pull back' migrants to Libya from international waters."

In 2020, at least 10,300 migrants were returned to Libya by the coast guard, according to a report published by the UN Human Rights office this week.

The report accuses the coast guard of a pattern of "reckless and violent behavior, including firing at or near migrant vessels, colliding with them, physical violence against migrants and the use of threatening or racist language." 

Abdul, a 25-year-old Sudanese migrant who had made four separate attempts to flee Libya by boat described authorities in Libya as having no humanity. "They don't care if you live or die," he said in an interview in the UN report.

The Libyan coast guard had rammed Abdul’s boat causing it to capsize, he said, adding that all 42 survivors were then forced back to Libya.

Abdul's testimony in the report continues: "I was beaten by the guards and only received food once each day. Finally after 25 days, we managed to escape. My leg got broken. Several others were shot by the guards, and died."

The fourth time Abdul attempted the crossing from Libya he was rescued and taken to Malta by an NGO vessel.

With AP


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