Amid scorching temperatures, hundreds of African migrants continue to arrive in Libya daily after Tunisian authorities initiated mass expulsions in early July, as reported by the United Nations and humanitarian groups.
At a Libyan border guard facility in the border area between Libya and Tunisia, media were given access to a group of migrants who claimed to have been stranded for approximately a month, enduring food and water shortages.
Mubarak Adam Mohamed, a migrant from Sudan, expressed hope that international organizations could provide them with an emergency solution.
In the past two weeks, Libyan border guards have rescued hundreds of migrants taken by Tunisian authorities to the border, located 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Tripoli. Approximately 350 migrants, including 65 children and 12 pregnant women, are still staying in a camp at Ras Jedir.
The situation arose after clashes in early July that resulted in the death of a Tunisian citizen, leading to the expulsion of hundreds of African migrants from Sfax in central eastern Tunisia, a prominent starting point for irregular migration to Europe.
Human Rights Watch reported that the Tunisian police “expelled” at least 1,200 African migrants, leaving them at the border with Libya to the east and Algeria to the west.
Tragically, humanitarian organizations in Libya have recorded at least 17 deaths in the desert region between Libya and Tunisia over the past three weeks.
Tunisia’s interior minister, Kamel Fekih, acknowledged that small groups of sub-Saharan migrants attempting to enter the country are pushed back into the desert border areas with Libya and Algeria. However, he dismissed claims of mistreatment by the U.N., humanitarian groups, and migrants themselves as “false allegations.”
Libya serves as a dominant but perilous transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to cross the treacherous Central Mediterranean Sea route to Europe. The country descended into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising resulted in the overthrow and death of longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
With rival governments in eastern and western Libya backed by various militias and foreign governments, human traffickers have exploited the decade of instability to smuggle migrants across borders from nations including Egypt, Algeria, and Sudan. Reports suggest that traffickers and militia members in Libya may have committed crimes against humanity, including extortion, torture, rape, and sexual assault in detention centers where migrants are held.