The United Nations says that three Sudanese migrants who tried to escape after their boat had been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard on the Mediterranean Sea and returned to shore were shot dead by local officials in Libya.
The three were among 73 mostly Sudanese, Europe-bound migrants on board a vessel that was returned to al-Khums, a western coastal town in Libya, late on Monday, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Safa Msehli, said on Tuesday.
Msehli told reporters that two migrants died on the spot and the third succumbed to wounds sustained from gunshots while being transported to a hospital.
The IOM reported that two other migrants who had been wounded were taken to the local hospital and the survivors placed in detention centres. The Organization further says that the local officials opened fire the instant the migrants attempted to escape from the point of disembarkation.
There was no prompt reaction from the UN-accepted government in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
Calls on international community
The IOM maintained its appeal to the European Union and the international community to stop returning helpless people to Libya.
“This is not the first time people are subjected to this senseless violence and confirms yet again that no one should be returned to Libya,” Msehli said.
Federico Soda, the chief of the IOM in Libya, shared his view in a statement: “The use of excessive violence results yet again in the senseless loss of life, amid a lack of action to change a system that often fails to provide any degree of protection.”
Migrants and refugees seeking to travel to Europe in search of greener pastures have suffered myriad human rights abuses, disappearance, violence and, in extreme cases, death, losing their lives amid the harsh conditions on the Mediterranean and on land in Libya.
The UN says figures show that since 2017 roughly 36,000 people have been intercepted and brought back to Libya by the Libyan coastguard.
Nana Abena Boakye-Boateng