Three African migrants shot dead, 65 others test positive for COVID-19
London, July 29, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Libyan authorities shot dead three Sudanese migrants trying to flee detention late on Monday, as they disembarked from a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, a U.N. agency said.
“Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Khums, reported that local authorities started shooting when the migrants attempted to escape from the disembarkation point,” IOM said in a statement.
They were among 70 disembarking from a vessel that was intercepted and sent back by the Libyan coast guard, one of many such voyages undertaken during the summer.
War-ravaged Libya is a major route for migrants seeking to reach Europe and now has an estimated 654,000 of them, often living in cramped conditions with little access to healthcare.
In recent months, hundreds of migrants have been stopped at sea and their vessels sent back to Libya despite the risk of violence there.
Both IOM and the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR have said Libya should not be classified as a safe port for migrants and that they should not have to disembark there. They want an alternative scheme to take people rescued or intercepted at sea to safe ports.
IOM Libya chief Federico Soda said 31 of the 70 migrants who disembarked were taken into detention and the others were reported to have escaped. Two migrants died at the scene of the incident and a third on the way to hospital.
Meanwhile, sixty-five other African migrants who were in a group of 94 people rescued at sea and brought to Malta on Monday have tested positive for COVID-19, Malta’s health ministry said on Tuesday.
It was the single largest cluster of positive cases detected on the Mediterranean island since the first case came to light in the country on March 7.
The health ministry said 85 of the migrants had been tested so far, with a further nine still awaiting a test. The nationalities of those infected were not immediately given.