Libya uses tear gas, rub­ber bul­lets to force mi­grants off ship

The Miracle - - National & Int. -

Libyan au­thor­i­ties have used rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas to forcibly dis­em­bark more than 90 refugees and mi­grants who had re­fused to leave a cargo ship docked in the port of Mis­rata.The Panama-flagged ship res­cued them off the Libyan coast 10 days ago, as their boat be­gan sink­ing, and brought them to Mis­rata. Once there, 14 dis­em­barked will­ingly but, in the first doc­u­mented case of its kind, the other 92 re­fused to leave. “A joint force raided the cargo ship and used rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas to force [them off the ship],” the com­man­der of the cen­tral re­gion coast­guards, Taw­fiq Esskair, told the Reuters news agency by phone on Tues­day. Some of those on board were wounded dur­ing dis­em­barka­tion but were now “in good con­di­tion” af­ter treat­ment in hos­pi­tal, and all had been taken to a de­ten­tion cen­tre in the city, said Esskair. Dur­ing the 10-day stand­off, the mi­grants pleaded to be taken to Europe, say­ing they are pre­pared to die than be re­turned to de­ten­tion in the North African coun­try. Two of those on board - Kai, 18, and Daniel, 16, both from South Su­dan - told Al Jazeera ear­lier this week that it was too dan­ger­ous to go back to the cen­tres, where they risk be­ing abused and sold to peo­ple smug­glers while hav­ing lit­tle hope of be­ing evac­u­ated. The group was brought to Mis­rata on Novem­ber 10, four days af­ter set­ting sail in a rub­ber boat with the hope of reach­ing Italy. Daniel said that the rub­ber boat had trav­elled al­most 200km be­fore the Pana­ma­nian-flagged cargo ship, The Nivin, crossed its path. Both Daniel and Kai said the crew on board The Nivin told them they would be taken to Italy, but in­stead brought them to Mis­rata. While many on board said they sur­vived tor­ture by hu­man traf­fick­ers in Libya, oth­ers had sto­ries about se­ri­ous abuses in of­fi­cial de­ten­tion cen­tres.Al Jazeera has pre­vi­ously heard re­ports of deaths in de­ten­tion cen­tres run by the Libyan Depart­ment for Com­bat­ting Il­le­gal Mi­gra­tion (DCIM) which has not re­sponded to mul­ti­ple re­quests for com­ment. Libya’s western coast has been a main de­par­ture point for refugees and mi­grants flee­ing wars and poverty and hop­ing for new lives in Europe. But since last year, heavy pres­sure from Italy - which had been bear­ing the brunt of ar­rivals - re­sulted in the dis­rup­tion of coastal smug­gling net­works and the with­drawal of char­ity res­cue ships.

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