Three Sudanese migrants were shot dead by Libyan authorities while trying to flee detention late on Monday, as they disembarked from a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, a U.N. agency has said.
“Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Khums, reported that local authorities started shooting when the migrants attempted to escape from the disembarkation point,” IOM said in a statement.
The migrants were among 70 disembarking from a vessel that was intercepted and sent back by the Libyan coast guard by European Union patrol ships.
War-torn Libya is a major route for migrants seeking to reach Europe and now has an estimated 654,000 of them, often living in cramped conditions with little access to healthcare.
In recent months, hundreds of migrants have been stopped at sea and their vessels sent back to Libya despite the risk of violence there.
Both IOM and the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR have said Libya should not be classified as a safe port for migrants and that they should not have to disembark there. They want an alternative scheme to take people rescued or intercepted at sea to safe ports.
In May, 30 migrants, mostly Bangladeshi, were abducted in Libya and shot dead in a southern city by armed insurgents.