BENGHAZI, THE HAGUE: Libya’s Coast Guard on Monday said it has intercepted a rubber boat carrying dozens of Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Ayoub Gassim, a Libyan official, said that 85 migrants — among them five women and five children — were given humanitarian and medical aid, then taken to a refugee camp.
He said the boat was caught off the coast of the town of Khoms, 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. After being picked up, the migrants were returned to Khoms.
Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the 2011 uprising that ousted and later killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.
‘Prosecute top EU officials’
Top EU and member states’ officials should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity over the drowning of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, international lawyers said on Monday.
The Paris-based lawyers presented the International Criminal Court with a detailed 245-page file, which they said was handed to chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office.
The information provides “enough evidence implicating the EU and member states’ officials and agents with crimes against humanity committed in pursuant to EU migration policies in the Mediterranean and Libya” since 2014, they said.
The lawyers alleged that in order to keep Europe’s borders safe, the EU resorted to a “deterrence-based migration policy, intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea.” The sole objective was to “dissuade others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe,” they said in their filing, of which a copy was handed to AFP.
When the policy failed because of rescue work by NGOs, the EU adopted a second strategy by employing the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and send migrants back to camps in Libya.