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Libya: five bodies of migrants discovered on the border with Tunisia

Libya: five bodies of migrants discovered on the border with Tunisia
Migrants in an area near the border between Libya and Tunisia, 23 July 2023   -  
Copyright © africanews
Yousef Murad/AP


The Libyan government issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the discovery of five bodies of migrants who died in the desert in an area on the border with Tunisia.

Libyan border guards "discovered five unidentified bodies of illegal migrants of African origin during a patrol in the Dahr al-Khass area in Tawilat al-Ratba", along the border with Tunisia, according to the Interior Ministry statement.

The bodies "have been handed over to the authorities", a border guard source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

For the past ten days, Libyan border guards have been coming to the rescue of sub-Saharan migrants expelled by the Tunisian authorities, who they believe dumped them in an uninhabited area near Al'Assah, around 150 km south-west of Tripoli.

Abandoned without water, food, or shelter in temperatures in excess of 50 degrees, they walked for miles, penetrating up to 15 km into Libyan territory, according to Libyan border guards.

An AFP team that went to the scene was able to photograph and film several groups of young men and a few women, sitting or lying on the sand, trying to take shelter under scrawny shrubs.

Numerous videos have since circulated on social networks, taken by the guards themselves during their patrols, documenting the arrival on foot from the Tunisian border of women and men of all ages, exhausted and thirsty, according to them.

Following clashes that claimed the life of a Tunisian on 3 July, hundreds of African migrants were driven from Sfax, the country's second-largest city and the main departure point in Tunisia for illegal emigration.

On 18 July, UN experts called on Tunisia to stop collective expulsions of sub-Saharan migrants after reports of dozens being abandoned by Tunisian police in desert areas on the border with Libya.

"We call on the authorities to immediately halt any further expulsions and to continue and extend humanitarian access to a dangerous area on the Tunisian-Libyan border where many people, including pregnant women and children, have already been expelled", they said.

Libya, which is home to at least 600,000 sub-Saharan migrants, has been repeatedly accused of multiple abuses against them, including "murder, enforced disappearance, torture, slavery and rape" by NGOs and international organisations.

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