A migrant vessel carrying 86 Libyan migrants has capsized and sank into the Mediterranean last night while travelling past Tunisia. Of the 86 migrants, only four were found and 82 are missing. Of the four found, one man from the Ivory Coast has since died in hospital, while the other three are still receiving treatment.
“Tunisian fishermen came across the sinking boat and were able to pull out four men, but could not find any of the other passengers on the boat,” Lorena Lando, head of the International Organization for Migration in Tunisia, said.
According to the Associated Press, the emergency migrant vessel which capsized late Wednesday was following a horrific airstrike on Libyan detention center, killing at least 44, but there are disagreements over the exact number.
“The UN says it believes at least 53 migrants died and 130 were hurt in the air strikes on the Tajoura centre. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said the air strikes could constitute a war crime,” the BBC reports.
This number comes after an update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, adding that six of the airstrike victims are children and more are still being pulled from the rubble. “There are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape,” the report has disclosed. “Over 600 refugees and migrants, including women and children, were being held against their will in Tajoura DC at the time of the attack.”
Survivors of the Libyan airstrike have since claimed that they had been conscripted by the local militia to work in a nearby weapons workshop.
In an interview with the Associated Press, two migrants claimed that they have been forced to work 24/7 inside the Tajoura detention center alongside hundreds of African migrants who were similarly conscripted.
“We clean the anti-aircraft guns. I saw a large amount of rockets and missiles too,” one young migrant, who asked to stay anonymous, told the Associated Press.
Despite outrage over the airstrike, no blame has been levied or is likely to be accurately assigned due to Libya’s warring parties vigorous blaming of the other.
“Aid agencies say even after the strikes, there is no plan for evacuating the facility” the Associated Press reports.