Over 100 migrants escape from Libya trafficking camp

Migrants returning from Niger after fleeing Libya. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 26 May 2018
0

Over 100 migrants escape from Libya trafficking camp

  • The migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia were being held hostage and tortured

TRIPOLI: More than 100 east African migrants escaped from a camp in the Libyan town of Bani Walid where they were being held hostage and tortured, international agencies and local sources said Saturday.
The migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia fled on Wednesday night to a mosque in the town where they were taken in by local associations and residents.
The hospital in Bani Walid said around 20 of them were being treated for injuries from torture.
According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), in a statement quoting witnesses, 15 migrants were killed and 25 injured during the escape, but there was no immediate confirmation from local sources.
Some of those who escaped, mostly adolescents, told MSF rescue workers that they had been held by people traffickers for up to three years.
The medical charity said seven of those hospitalized had serious gunshot wounds.
“This is another example of the ongoing horrors suffered by many migrants and refugees while transiting through Libya,” MSF said, adding that “kidnapping for ransom remains a thriving business.”
Bani Walid, 170 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of the Libyan capital Tripoli, is a transit point for migrants aiming to reach Europe by boat from the coast further north.
People traffickers and kidnappers run around 20 detention centers in the town, telephoning the migrants’ families to deliver ransom demands.
Since the 2011 fall and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has become a key launchpad for migrants making desperate bids to reach Europe.
The conflict-riven country is regularly singled out for the exploitation and ill-treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
SOS MEDITERRANEE, a humanitarian group, called Saturday for more search-and-rescue vessels to be deployed due to rising migrant numbers.
“In the last two days, more than 1,500 people have attempted the dangerous crossing to escape violence and extortion in Libya,” it said.
“This shows, once again, that the presence of dedicated and well-equipped search-and-rescue ships is absolutely necessary if we are to prevent more deaths in the Mediterranean,” said Sophie Beau, co-founder of the European NGO.


Iran calls US efforts to cut its oil exports to zero ‘political bluff’

Updated 14 min 55 sec ago
0

Iran calls US efforts to cut its oil exports to zero ‘political bluff’

  • US administration has been pushing its allies to cut Iranian oil imports
  • US sanctions on Iranian oil exports are due to kick in on Nov. 4

GENEVA: Statements by the United States that it would reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero are a “political bluff,” the head of state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said, according to a report published by Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.
US officials have said they aim to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero to force its leaders to change their behavior in the region. US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports are scheduled to kick in on Nov. 4.
NIOC head Ali Kardor said US President Donald Trump had been trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports for months.
“The president of America has done whatever he can and he knows very well that getting Iran’s oil exports to zero was a political bluff,” Kardor said.
The US administration has been pushing its allies to cut Iranian oil imports and encouraging Saudi Arabia, other OPEC states and Russia to pump more oil to meet any shortfall.
Kardor said Iran did not have any difficulties receiving payments for oil exports and said the Islamic Republic could accept payments in euros instead of dollars if necessary.
“There is no problem on this issue,” Kardor said, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported. “With European support there will not be a problem.”
European powers have been trying to salvage a nuclear accord with Iran after the United States withdrew in May.
The European Union said last month it was considering setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate trade with Iran and said it could be in place before November.
European diplomats have said the SPV would create a barter system, similar to one used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to exchange Iranian oil for European goods without money changing hands.
Kardor said Iran was scheduled to sign a new oil contract with a foreign company within two weeks, ISNA reported. He did not provide any additional information.