By: Noora Jussila, IFRC
Photos: Fawsi Abdel-Alli, Libyan Red Crescent
Early in the morning of Wednesday, 22 February, Khoms branch of the Libyan Red Crescent received a phone call. They were told that 69 migrants of different nationalities had been found inside a metal container near the city, some of them dead and the others in bad condition. They had been trapped in the container for four days.
“When the volunteers arrived, they provided first aid, psychological first aid, food and blankets for the 56 survivors, among them a 5-year-old girl called Aisha”, says Mr. Fawsi Abdel-Alli, the spokesperson for Libyan Red Crescent Khoms branch.
Some of the migrants were suffering from serious injuries and fractures, and needed immediate medical attention.
Libyan Red Crescent volunteers recovered the bodies of the 13 people who had died in the container, placing them in body bags and documenting them before transportation. Among the dead there were a 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
Earlier this week the Libyan Red Crescent volunteers from Zawiya branch recovered bodies of 74 migrants that had been washed on the shores after an unfortunate attempt to cross the Mediterranean.
“These recent tragedies highlight the need for safe and legal paths for migrants who now have to risk their lives in search of a better future. The international community needs to act to put an end to the human suffering that the migrants and their loved ones are forced to face”, said Amelia Marzal, IFRC representative for North Africa and focal point on migration issues in the MENA region.
Libya is at the crossroads of one the main routes for migrants arriving from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East before trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of better future. Prior to the latest tragedy earlier this week, more than 270 people migrating are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean in the first weeks of 2017.
Libyan Red Crescent is actively working to improve the living conditions of the migrants in many of Libya’s detention centers. For example, in December 2016 and January 2017, Libyan Red Crescent volunteers distributed mattresses and blankets for 364 migrants in Al Kufra, Tokara, Sabha and Tripoli, and hygiene kits, trash bags and chlorine cans for 50 in Tripoli.
The Libyan Red Crescent is also helping migrants and internally displaced people in Libya to reconnect with their family members by restoring family links.
An estimated 1.3 million internally placed people, returnees, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable Libyans are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.