UN urges action to address horrors faced by migrants in Med

'Boats rammed and shot at'

02 October, 17:34

    (ANSAmed) - GENEVA, OCTOBER 2 - The UN Human Rights Office is calling for urgent action to address the dire situation of migrants attempting to cross the central Mediterranean Sea in search of safety in Europe and to tackle the shocking conditions they face in Libya, at sea, and - frequently - upon their reception in Europe.

    According to a statement posted on the website of the UN agency, ''a team dispatched by the UN Human Rights Office to monitor the situation of migrants transiting through Libya, highlighted a cycle of violence whereby people who had faced unimaginable horrors in Libya were left to drift for days at sea, had their boats dangerously intercepted and were returned to suffer arbitrary detention, torture and other serious human rights violations in Libya, which cannot be considered a safe port for migrants.'' The team interviewed 76 migrants.

    Many reported being intercepted on previous sea crossings by the Libyan Coast Guard, including having their boats rammed or shot at, causing vessels to capsize or people to jump into the water in desperation. There were also reports that on at least one occasion the Armed Forces of Malta attempted to push a migrant boat back towards Libya, and on another occasion attempted to push a boat with migrants in the direction of the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to the statement.

    Some migrants reported that commercial vessels did not come to their assistance, while others said commercial ships picked them up but returned them to Libya where they ended up in detention centres. If true, these are serious allegations of failure to assist people in distress at sea and possible coordinated push-backs that should be duly investigated, the UN body said.

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that:"What is happening to migrants in Malta - and elsewhere in Europe - is the result of a failed system of migration governance, one that fails to place the human rights of migrants and refugees at the centre and for too long has been marked by a lack of solidarity forcing frontline states such as Malta to bear the brunt of the responsibility.'' "I urge the European Union and its Member States to ensure its Pact on Migration and Asylum addresses these challenges head on and results in a truly common and principled approach that ensures the respect and protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees," she said. (ANSA).

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