The death of a Sudanese man upon interception and a recent UN report again raises alarm over the operations of the EU-funded Libyan Coast Guard praised for “effectively operating” in an internal EU document released by StateWatch.

A Sudanese man died a few hours after being shot at Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when resisting his return to a detention center. The man was part of a group of 103 migrants intercepted on their way to Europe and returned to Tripoli by the Libyan coast guard. Armed men began shooting in the air when several migrants tried to run away from their guards. The scene was witnessed by IOM staff who were on the scene to provide aid to migrants. They immediately assisted the wounded man who however died two hours after his admission to a nearby hospital.

“The death is a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe, only to find themselves put into detention centers, whose conditions have been condemned by IOM and the UN”, IOM writes.

Relatedly, in his report on the UN Support Mission in Libya, General Secretary Antonio Guterres voices serious concerns regarding the transfer of migrants rescued or intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard to unofficial detention centres in Khums. Hundreds of rescued migrants who were reported to have been sent to detention centres were later listed as missing and may have been trafficked or sold to smugglers, while others disappeared on their way to nearby Suq al-Khamis, the report states.

In a document authored by the presidency of the Council of the EU on the situation in Libya, the EU acknowledges that conditions have deteriorated severely recently “due to security concerns” in addition to the worsening situation in the overcrowded detention facilities. However, in the section on “involvement and assistance to help support migration management and fight migrant smuggling” of the same document, the EU applauds its cooperation with the Libyan coastguard stating that: “the number of departures along the coast has remained low and the Libyan Navy Coast Guards have continued operating effectively, thus confirming the progress achieved over the past three years”.

According to the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF), over 495 vulnerable people attempting to flee Libya have been intercepted & forcibly returned over the past this week.

For further Information:


Photo: (CC) NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, April 2013, Tripoli

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.