From file: The body of a migrant after a rubber boat capsized off the coast of Libya | Photo: EPA/Flavio Gasperini/SOS MEDITERRANEE
From file: The body of a migrant after a rubber boat capsized off the coast of Libya | Photo: EPA/Flavio Gasperini/SOS MEDITERRANEE

The bodies of 15 persons were recovered Monday evening, following a shipwreck off the Libyan coast, while 177 survivors were returned to land by the Libyan coast guard, according to UN agencies.

At least 15 people have died in the latest shipwreck off the Libyan coast on October 11. The UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Twitter that 15 bodies were recovered as two boats with 177 survivors arrived at Tripoli Naval Base late Monday evening.

The survivors, wrapped in thermal blankets, were provided assistance by UNHCR, the International Rescue Committee and partners. Some of the survivors needed urgent medical attention, reports news agency epd.

The migrant boats had reportedly departed Libya one day earlier and set off from Zwara and Alkhoms, said UNHCR.

According to UN migration agency IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli, 90 survivors reported that a boat with dozens of migrants headed for Europe was forced back by the Libyan coast guard.

Msehli reiterated that the return of migrants to "the country's squalid detention is a continuation, and often worsening, of the trauma migrants experience on this route."

Atrocious conditions, mass arrests

UN agencies and human rights organizations have repeatedly denouced the inhumane conditions in Libyan detention camps where migrants are exposed to violence and torture.

There have been repeated attempts by migrants to flee from the camps, as well as uprisings which were then violently put down by the Libyan authorities, reports epd. Only on Friday, at least six people were killed by security personnel in a detention camp in Tripoli, according to the UN.

Guards opened fire at the overcrowded detention facility. Federico Soda, head of the Libyan mission of the IOM, said he couldn't exactly say what led to the shooting, but it was "related to overcrowding and the terrible, very tense situation" at the detention facility.

Amnesty International, in a statement released on October 9, denounced a massive roundup operation that preceeded the killings of the six migrants. On October 1, security forces and militias in Tripoli carried out raids on houses and temporary shelters in Gargaresh, a poor suburb of Tripoli where many migrants and asylum seekers live.

The security forces reportedly used illegal lethal arms and other forms of violence in what the watchdog calls an "unprecedented roundup" of more than 5,000 migrants, among them men, women and children, from Sub-Saharan Africa. At least one person died and 15 were wounded during the operation, says Amnesty.

The roughly 5,000 migrants were arrested and taken to detention centers in Tripoli despite having legal documents to live in the country. In the camps the migrants are "denied regular and confidential access to UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies and subjected to torture and other ill treatment," said Amnesty.


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