Migrant ship barred from disembarking in Libya

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An International Organisation for Migration staff providing food and water to migrants stuck on the coast guard vessel in Tripoli, Libya.

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 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.

IOM staff providing food and water to migrants stuck on the coast guard vessel in Tripoli, Libya.

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.

 

Chidi Nwoke.