The Italian coastguard on Saturday released shocking video of thousands of migrants being plucked from the water during rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea near ltaly. The footage released showed one migrant floating using a life-saving device as officers came to his rescue while another, visibly shocked, hung on to the bow of a ship.
The coast guard said 2,121 people had been rescued altogether from 17 vessels between Friday and Saturday morning as they tried to reach Europe – but one body was recovered
Smugglers are cramming migrants onto boats in Libya at a record pace this year. Arrivals in Italy, where rescued migrants are brought, are up 35 percent on the same period last year.
The European Union and Italy agreed in February to funnel millions of euros to the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli. The funds were supposed to help it fight human trafficking and operate migrant centres to be managed by UN agencies, but those have yet to be opened. But the capacity of Tripoli’s coastguard is increasing with humanitarian groups fearing this will feed the lucrative smuggling business.
Migrants will be intercepted and taken back to Libya where they will be held in appalling government-controlled centres, only to try to make the crossing again at a later date.
On Friday, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO), one of the few aid agencies entering the government-controlled camps, said it had witnessed adult malnutrition, overcrowding, violence-related injuries and lack of basic hygiene.
Arrivals in Italy, where rescued migrants are brought, are up 35 percent on the same period last year. Under new plans, migrants could be intercepted and taken back to Libya where they will be held in government-controlled centers.
According to MSF:
‘In the first three months of 2017, interruptions in food supply were observed in two detention centres with detainees going for days without any food,’ MSF said. As a result, MSF is treating adults suffering from malnutrition.’
After the Libyan coastguard stopped almost 600 migrants on Thursday, Italy’s embassy in Tripoli tweeted: ‘This is the right way forward.’
A day after reaching safety, migrants who were on board the vessels told of arbitrary detention, slavery and beatings in Libya as Europe seeks to build up the Tripoli-based coastguard.
Yagob Mobark Ibrahim, 21, from Sudan, said:
‘We are always suffering in Libya from hunger, and the Libyan people hate us. They don’t look at us like people, they look at us like animals.’