Over 100 migrants escape from Libya trafficking camp

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

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.


Israel records highest single-day virus tally

Updated 16 min 39 sec ago

Israel records highest single-day virus tally

  • Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon”
  • Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns

JERUSALEM: Israel has recorded its highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed in the most recent daily count, the health ministry said Friday.
Israel had won early praise for its virus containment efforts, but cases have surged since a broad re-opening began in May.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted in a late Thursday news conference that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon.”
“I take responsibility for it,” he told reporters.
From midnight (2100 GMT) on Wednesday to midnight on Thursday, the health ministry registered 1,504 new coronavirus infections — the highest single-day tally since Israel confirmed its first case on February 21.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 36,000 cases, including 351 deaths.
Various restrictions have been re-imposed, including the closure of venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
Limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants and places of worship have also been reinstated.
Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns.
Israel’s director of public health services, Siegal Sadetzki, resigned this week, blasting her superiors for ignoring her advice and steering Israel’s virus response off course.
“Despite repeated warnings in different forums, we are watching with frustration as our window of opportunity (to contain the virus) is running out,” Sadetzki said in a Facebook post announcing her resignation.