Tripoli, Libya, July 28, 2020 — A boat carrying 73 passengers who were trying to reach Europe was intercepted at sea and returned to shore on the night of Monday 27 July. It is reported that the local authorities began shooting when many of those who had been disembarked tried to escape being taken to a detention centre.
The IRC's medical team - who are permitted by the local authorities only to provide emergency medical care and a few basic supplies to those in need at the disembarkation points - were heading home when the shooting began. They returned immediately to the scene to provide first aid when they heard the gunfire.
Tom Garofalo, Country Director for the International Rescue Committee in Libya, said:
“We utterly condemn the violent incident that occurred last night at Khoms disembarkation point as migrants and refugees were being disembarked. The fact that people who had risked their lives trying to reach safety in Europe were met with gunfire upon their return to Libya is reprehensible. 73 people - including 15 children - survived the journey at sea and our teams were on the ground, supporting those in need of emergency medical assistance when they were disembarked, but had to respond to a different kind of emergency when the shooting began. Although they did all they could to treat the wounded, one man sadly died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital and two more died from their injuries. Many of the survivors – including the children – have been sent to a detention centre. For those trying to leave Libya, the insecurity within the country is one of the driving factors - people want to live peacefully and will risk their lives at sea to achieve this. This violence only reinforces the dangers that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers face in Libya. More must urgently be done to ensure their safety and arbitrary detention should end.”
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.