IOM responds to latest humanitarian tragedy off the coast of Libya

Posted: 
12/05/18
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies

Tripoli – At least a dozen people are dead after a rubber boat which spent more than 10 days at sea capsized off Misrata, Libya, on Monday.

Ten survivors were rescued and returned to Libya where they were treated by IOM medical staff. Three other passengers remain missing.

“The survivors were all suffering from complete dehydration and exhaustion after being stranded at sea for days,” said IOM physician Dr. Mohamed Abugalia.

“People suffered from trauma, severe malnutrition and burns sustained from the boat’s engine fuel.”

Four cases in need of emergency medical care were transferred to a private hospital in Tripoli.

Six others were moved to detention centres by Libyan authorities, where IOM continues to provide medical care.

“We continue to advocate for alternatives to detention for migrants returned to Libyan shores, specifically for those most vulnerable," said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Othman Belbeisi, who also expressed concern about the lack of search and rescue capacity as the weather worsens with the onset of winter.

“The absence of mechanisms to better manage returns coupled with reduced search and rescue capacity at sea is making the crossing increasingly dangerous for migrants. There are more possibilities to die at sea now than one year ago. This is not acceptable. Saving lives at sea should be the number one priority, and search and rescue operations clearly need to be reinforced."

Media accounts of the migrants’ ordeals differ, but it appears the boat, which was attempting to travel to Italy, was blown hundreds of kilometres off course. Red Crescent spokesman Baha al-Kawash told Agence France-Presse the migrants left for Italy from the city of Sabratha, west of Tripoli, but their vessel was blown 270km east and later overturned.

IOM is following up on the current humanitarian and medical needs of migrants in the detention centre and hospital to ensure they receive adequate assistance. The Organization will provide mental health and psychosocial support to the survivors.

For more information please contact Maya Abu Ata at IOM Libya, Tel: +218910024839, Email:  mabuata@iom.int 

  • IOM Libya medical staff escort a survivor of Monday's tragedy to a Tripoli hospital for emergency treatment. Photo: IOM Libya