More citizens flee to Europe by sea amid worsening situation in Libya


In a span of 48 hours, nine boats carrying more than 600 Libyan migrants have been discovered on the central Mediterranean route last week. A tenth boat arrived on November 21, in Lampedusa, Italy.

Libyan capital, Tripoli, and surrounding areas have been witnessing some of the heaviest shelling since the conflict erupted in April.

This apparent spike in departures from Libya has alarmed the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“IOM is deeply concerned about the safety of migrants who are vulnerable to clashes, human trafficking and abuse as the security situation further deteriorates,” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission.

IOM renews its call to the European Union and the African Union, for an urgent shift in approach to the situation in Libya. Immediate action must be taken to dismantle the detention system and find alternative solutions to safeguard lives, said IOM.

Between Tuesday, November 19, and Thursday, November 21, operators of the Ocean Viking and Open Arms NGO vessels reported rescuing 287 migrants.

IOM Libya confirms that the Libyan Coast Guard returned 289 others to shore including 14 children and 33 women. They were transferred to a detention centre. IOM staff who provided emergency assistance at the disembarkation point described the migrants as “vulnerable and scared”.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,600 migrants have been returned to often overcrowded Libyan detention centres where the United Nations has documented unacceptable conditions, violations of human rights and disappearances.

Latest updates recoded by IOM
• Early Thursday morning Tunisia authorities discovered 43 people in a boat off the coast of Djerba.
• The NGO rescue vessel Open Arms rescued 73 people and, Ocean Viking a further 90.
• IOM staff in Lampedusa reported the arrival of a wooden boat carrying 74 migrants.
• On Wednesday, Ocean Viking rescued a further 30 people and the Libyan Coast Guard returned 289 people from four boats.
• On Tuesday, Ocean Viking NGO vessel rescued 94 people.

(Source: IOM Intl.)