Shelling in Tripoli has stopped 280 migrants, whose boat was intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, from disembarking. They will have to spend the night aboard a coastguard ship, the United Nations migration agency said.
“The situation is tragic. Hundreds of people, drained after a perilous 72-hour journey,” said Federico Soda, Head of the International Organisation for Migration’s Libya mission, in a statement.
“They will spend the night on an overcrowded boat in tense circumstances.”
🚨 𝙇𝙞𝙗𝙮𝙖 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙄𝙩𝙨 𝙋𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙨 𝙐𝙣𝙨𝙖𝙛𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝘿𝙞𝙨𝙚𝙢𝙗𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙈𝙞𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨.
— IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) April 9, 2020
Libya is a major way station for migrants attempting to travel from Africa to Europe.
At least six boats have left Libya this month carrying about 500 people attempting the sea-crossing to Europe, though Italy has declared its ports unsafe due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Fighting has engulfed Tripoli in recent months as eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter have escalated their year-long siege.
Officials in Tripoli said the intensity of shelling on Thursday, some of which had previously targeted the port, meant it was not safe for disembarkation, IOM said.
The IOM is providing them with water and food, it said. A curfew in Tripoli to help stop the spread of the coronavirus is also complicating efforts to bring them off the ship, it added.