More Than 40 Bodies Found In Libya Mass Grave

Libya flag

 

Forty-two bodies have been found in a mass grave in the Libyan city of Sirte, an ex-stronghold of the Islamic State group, the country’s missing persons authority said Sunday.

Exhumation teams unearthed “42 unidentified bodies” after following up reports of a “mass grave” at the site of a former school in Sirte, the authority said.

“DNA samples have been taken for analysis in coordination with the office of forensic medicine,” it added, without elaborating further.

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Sirte, a central coastal city, was held by IS between 2015 and 2016, as it exploited the chaos engulfing much of Libya in the wake of the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

The jihadist group was dislodged by forces loyal to the then Government of National Accord in December 2016 after months of intense house-to-house fighting.

In October 2017, a grave containing the bodies of 21 Coptic Christians, executed by the jihadists two years earlier, was uncovered near the Mediterranean city.

Another mass grave with the remains of 34 Ethiopian Christians was discovered near Sirte in December 2018, more than three years after IS published a video showing its personnel executing at least 28 men described as Ethiopian Christians.

AFP

32 Killed As Death Toll Continues To Rise In Libya Clashes

Damaged vehicles are pictured in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli on August 27, 2022, following clashes between rival Libyan groups. TURKIA / AFP

 

Clashes between backers of Libya’s rival governments killed at least 32 people, the health ministry said Sunday in a new toll, after a battle that sparked fears of major new conflict.

Armed groups had exchanged fire that damaged several hospitals and set buildings on fire starting Friday evening, the worst fighting in the Libyan capital since a landmark 2020 ceasefire.

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A cautious calm had set in by Saturday evening, an AFP correspondent said.

The fighting came after months of mounting tensions between backers of Abdulhamid Dbeibah and Fathi Bashagha, whose rival administrations are vying for control of the North African country which has seen more than a decade of violence since a 2011 uprising.

Dbeibah’s administration, installed in the capital as part of a United Nations-led peace process after the end of the last major battle in 2020, has so far prevented Bashagha from taking office there, arguing that the next administration should be the product of elections.

Bashagha was appointed by Libya’s eastern-based parliament earlier this year and is backed by powerful eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar, whose 2019 attempt to seize the capital by force turned into a year-long civil war.

Bashagha, a former interior minister, had initially ruled out the use of violence to take power in Tripoli but had since hinted that he could resort to force.

Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a Western-backed uprising, with myriad armed groups and foreign powers moving to fill the power vacuum.

Certain armed groups seen as neutral in the latest crisis had moved to back Dbeibah this weekend to push back Bashagha’s second attempt to enter the capital.

Both sides exchanged blame on Saturday while world powers appealed for calm.

The UN’s Libya mission called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities”, citing “ongoing armed clashes including indiscriminate medium and heavy shelling in civilian-populated neighbourhoods”.

On Saturday evening, Dbeibah posted a video of himself surrounded by bodyguards and greeting fighters supporting his administration.

Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity said fighting had broken out after negotiations to avoid bloodshed in the western city collapsed.

Bashagha denied such talks had taken place, and accused Dbeibah’s “illegitimate” administration of “clinging to power”.

Local media reported later Saturday that a group of pro-Bashagha militias that had been making their way to the capital from Misrata later turned back.

Analyst Wolfram Lacher wrote on Twitter that Libya’s shifting alliances were “a never-ending story”.

“The armed groups that found themselves on the same side in yesterday’s Tripoli fighting will tomorrow clash over turf, positions and budgets,” he wrote.

“The factions that were pro-Dbeibah yesterday will challenge him tomorrow.”

174 Stranded Nigerians Return From Libya

The 174 stranded Libya returnees disembark from the aircraft in Lagos on August 16, 2022. Credit: NEMA.

 

At least 174 stranded Nigerians have returned from Libya, emergency officials said on Wednesday.

Channels Television gathered that the fresh returnees comprise arrived at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) at about 3:35 pm on Tuesday. They consist of 84 females and 90 males.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Director General, Mustapha Habib Ahmed, who disclosed this in a statement, said the returnees were brought back aboard Al Buraq Air Boeing 737-800.

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Represented by the Lagos Territorial Office Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, the NEMA boss said 75 male adults, 12 male children and three male infants were also aboard the flight.

“The profiles of the returnees show that 69  female adults, five female children and 10 female infants were brought back. Also aboard the flight are 75 male adults, 12 male children and three male infants,” the statement read.

“Among the returnees are 23 with minor medical cases. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with European Union has been repatriating thousands of stranded Nigerian from various countries since 2017 through a special Assisted Voluntary Repatriation programme,” he said.

“This year alone, today’s flight makes the 12th recorded at the Lagos end of the exercise. Altogether, about 2, 044 Nigerian Returnees from Libya have been assisted back to the country through Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja.

“Among the returnees are 23 with minor medical cases. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with European Union have been repatriating thousands of stranded Nigerian from various countries since 2017 through a special Assisted Voluntary Repatriation programme,” he said.

“This year alone, today’s flight makes the 12th recorded at the Lagos end of the exercise. Altogether, about 2, 044 Nigerian Returnees from Libya have been assisted back to the country through Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja.

“The 2,044 comprised 848 male adults, 719 female adults, 180 children and 123 infants returned through MMIA this year.”

16 Killed, 52 Injured In Libya Militia Clashes

People assess the damage caused by recent fighting between armed groups, in a neighbourhood of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on July 23, 2022. Mahmud Turkia / AFP

 

At least 16 people were killed and 52 wounded in fighting between armed groups in Tripoli, the health ministry said Saturday, following the latest politically driven violence to hit the Libyan capital.

The fighting began on Thursday night and extended into Friday afternoon. On Saturday, violence erupted in Libya’s third city Misrata, prompting the US embassy to warn of the risk of a wider flare-up.

Misrata is the hometown of both of the rival prime ministers who are vying for control of what remains of a central government.

The clashes pitted a militia loyal to the unity government of Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah against another loyal to his rival Fathi Bashagha, named in February by a parliament based in the country’s east, Libyan media reported.

US ambassador Richard Norland called on all political actors and their supporters among armed groups to stand down in order to avoid escalation.

“Today’s clashes in Misrata demonstrate the dangerous prospect that the recent violence will escalate,” he warned in a tweet.

“Armed efforts either to test or to defend the political status quo risk bringing Libya back to an era its citizens thought had been left behind.”

The Tripoli clashes were between two armed groups with major clout in the west of the war-torn country: the Al-Radaa force and the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade.

Several sources said one group’s detention of a fighter belonging to the other had sparked the fighting, which extended to several districts of the capital.

On Friday, another group called the 444 Brigade intervened to mediate a truce, deploying its own forces in a buffer zone before they too came under heavy fire, an AFP photographer reported.

Libya has been gripped by insecurity since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, leaving a power vacuum armed groups have been wrangling for years to fill.

Tensions have been rising for months in Libya as the rival prime ministers face off, raising fears of renewed conflict two years after a landmark truce ended a ruinous attempt by eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar to seize Tripoli by force.

The dead were the first civilian casualties of fighting in Tripoli since the 2020 truce.

Both groups involved in the Tripoli fighting are nominally loyal to Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity, appointed last year as part of a United Nations-backed peace process.

Dbeibah has refused to cede power to Bashagha, named prime minister after he made a pact with Haftar.

22 Malian Migrants Died In Boat Disaster Off Libya – UN

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

Twenty-two Malian migrants died in a boat disaster off the Libyan coast, the UN said Tuesday, citing survivors who reported victims drowning and dehydrating with three children reportedly among the dead.

After nine days at sea, 61 survivors, mostly from Mali, were rescued by the Libyan coastguard and brought back to shore, the UN’s International Organization for Migration said, with the toll confirmed by Mali’s expatriates ministry.

The migrants embarked from the Libyan city of Zuwara, near the Tunisian border, on a rubber boat, at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT) local time on June 22, said IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli.

“After nine days at sea, they were picked up by the Libyan coastguard,” she said.

They were brought back to shore on Saturday.

“According to the survivors, 22 migrants, all from Mali, died during the journey. Reported causes of death are drowning and dehydration. Among the dead are three children,” said Msehli.

“The total number of survivors is 61, with the majority from Mali.”

Msehli said some of the migrants were in very bad health and so were taken to hospitals by the IOM.

“The remaining migrants were taken to Al Maya detention centre,” she said.

– ‘World’s deadliest migration route’ –

Libya has become a key route for irregular migration to Europe in the chaotic years since the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.

“The (expatriates) ministry offers its condolences in the name of the government to the affected families and to the Malian people for this tragedy,” Mali’s government said in a statement that called on the Malian people to “fight against irregular migration”.

The International Organization for Migration has said that nearly 2,000 migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2021, compared to 1,401 the previous year.

It is the world’s deadliest migration route, but people hoping to build a better life in Europe increasingly risk it.

Mali, which is currently under military rule, is chronically unstable and has been buffeted by internal challenges and regional jihadist forces.

Jihadists joined a regional insurgency in northern Mali in 2012, and then extended their campaign to the centre of the country and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of civilians have died, more than two million have fled their homes and economic damage to countries that are among the poorest in the world has been severe.

US Calls For ‘Immediate’ End To Libya Oil Shutdowns

An image of the U.S. flag.
An image of the U.S. flag.

 

 

The US said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” about an ongoing closure of key oil installations in Libya, calling for the shutdowns to end “immediately”.

The closure of several sites this month, including oilfields and export terminals, has seen Libya’s output halve to around 600,000 barrels per day.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the continued oil shutdown, which is depriving Libyans of substantial revenue,” the US embassy in Tripoli said.

“Responsible Libyan leaders must recognise that the shutdown harms Libyans throughout the country and has repercussions across the global economy, and should end it immediately,” it added in a statement.

The closures follow the latest political fissure in the North African country, which in February saw parliament select a new prime minister — ex-interior minister Fathi Bashagha — in a direct challenge to Tripoli-based premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah.

Analysts say eastern Libyan forces who back Bashagha have forced the closure of the oil facilities in a bid to press Dbeibah to step down, but the incumbent insists he will only hand power to an elected successor.

Libya’s reduced output also comes as global oil prices remain under pressure since Russia, an OPEC+ producer, invaded Ukraine in February.

The political bloc supporting Bashagha is aligned with Libya’s eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, who in 2019-20 led a failed offensive against Tripoli, accompanied by his forces blockading oilfields.

Haftar’s external backers include Russia.

The US embassy also said it was continuing to press for the “creation of a temporary Libyan financial mechanism” that would “prevent the diversion of funds for partisan political purposes.”

Analysts say the latest blockade was triggered by the National Oil Corporation agreeing to transfer $8 billion in oil revenues to Dbeibah’s government.

Libya has been mired in conflict for long stretches since longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi was deposed and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

Libya Oil Firm Closes Major Oil Field

Libya flag

 

Libya’s National Oil Corporation announced Sunday the closure of production at a major oil field in the country’s south, declaring a “force majeure”.

“On Saturday… the Al-Fil field was subjected to arbitrary closure attempts, due to the entry of a group of individuals and the prevention of the field’s workers from continuing production,” the NOC said on Facebook.

It added that the field was shut down on Sunday — marking the second closure in a matter of weeks — “making it impossible for the NOC to implement its contractual obligations”.

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The firm said it “is obliged to declare a state of force majeure” and would no longer be able to provide crude to the Mellitah complex on the country’s northwestern coast.

Declaring force majeure is a legal move allowing parties to free themselves from contractual obligations when factors such as fighting or natural disasters make meeting them impossible.

According to Libya’s state news agency, the closure comes after a group of individuals declared that they were halting production “until a government appointed by parliament takes office in the capital”.

Libya has recently once again found itself with two rival governments after the eastern-based parliament in February appointed a new prime minister in a direct challenge to the UN-brokered government in Tripoli.

The move underlines the extent of divisions in the war-wracked country as observers fear a renewed descent into violence.

Al-Fil, some 750 kilometres southwest of Tripoli, is jointly managed by the NOC and Italian energy giant ENI and produces around 70,000 barrels of oil per day.

The field had already been forced to close temporarily in early March when an armed group shut down valves delivering crude.

Oil revenues are vital to the economy of Libya, a country sitting on Africa’s largest known reserves.

AFP

Seventy Migrants Feared Dead Off Libya – IOM

IOM logo: Photo: [email protected] Nigeria

 

Around 70 migrants are presumed dead after going missing off the Libyan coast since late February, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday.

The United Nations agency said 22 migrants had been found dead after boats capsized on February 27 and March 12, with 47 still missing.

In the latter tragedy, a boat reportedly carrying 25 migrants capsized off the Libyan port city of Tobruk, bringing the total number of migrants reported dead or missing in the central Mediterranean to 215 so far this year, it said.

“I am appalled by the continuing loss of life in the Central Mediterranean and the lack of action to tackle this ongoing tragedy,” said Federico Soda, IOM’s Libya chief.

He called for “concrete action to reduce loss of life … through dedicated and proactive search and rescue and a safe disembarkation mechanism”.

“Each missing migrant report represents a grieving family searching for answers about their loved ones,” he added.

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Libya has long been a springboard for migrants, often from countries ravaged by war and poverty, to make desperate bids to reach a better life in Europe.

Many end up drowning in the attempt, making the central Mediterranean route the world’s deadliest migration corridor.

More than 123,000 migrants landed in Italy from Libya and neighbouring Tunisia in 2021, up from around 95,000 the previous year, according to the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR.

Nearly 2,000 migrants went missing or drowned last year in the Mediterranean, compared to 1,401 in 2020, it says.

AFP

PHOTOS: 162 Stranded Nigerians Return From Libya

This photo shows the returnees waiting in a queue shortly after their arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja, Lagos on March 15, 2022.

 

One hundred and sixty-two Nigerians stranded in Libya have returned to the country.

The returnees arrived at the Cargo Wing of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja, Lagos at about 3:56pm on Tuesday aboard Boeing 737-800 Al Buraq Air with registration number 5A-DMG.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 41 of the 162 returnees are female adults, five are girls, six are female infants, 96 are adult males, nine are boys and five are male infants.

It added that of the returnees brought back to the country by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), three male adults have minor medical issues.

NEMA said it was the 91st flight to convey Nigerians stranded in Libya back to the country since April 2017, while at least 24,000 people have since returned to Nigeria.

Other agencies whose officials were on the ground with NEMA include the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and the police, among others.

The arrival of the returnees are captured in the photos below:

PHOTOS: NEMA Receives Another Batch Of 128 Nigerian Returnees From Libya

A photo collage of the returnees’ arrival.

 

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has received another batch of 128 stranded Nigerian returnees from Libya.

The Director-General of NEMA, Mustapha Ahmed, who was represented by the NEMA Lagos Territorial Office Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, received the Voluntary Assisted Returnees at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Ikeja on Tuesday evening.

The IOM-assisted returnees arrived aboard Al Buraq Air Boeing 100 – 800 with registration number 5A-DMG.

Profiles of the returnees indicated that 80 adult males, 8 male children, and 2 male infants along with 30 adult females, 4 female children, and 4 female infants, were voluntarily assisted back to the country by the IOM.

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A 29 years old distressed young woman, while narrating her ordeals, regretted how she had been misled by her mother to embark on a fruitless journey.

Miss Tosin Omole alleged that her mother was approached by a street sister who sweet-talked her into convincing her daughter to embark on the journey to Europe, but the final destination changed.

The unsuspecting victim obeyed her mother by embarking on the journey after pressures became unbearable; she left her three-month-old son behind in the care of her mum.

According to her, the child is bout 6 years old now.

 

Ms Omole narrated how the proposed journey to Europe became a hellish life of prostitution in Libya.

“My trafficker paid for the journey from Nigeria to Libya which started on 26th February 2016.

“Before leaving Nigeria, my trafficker had informed me that I will refund the money spent on me for the journey though she did not tell me the amount.

“I ended up paying her 2.2 million naira equivalent by engaging in aristo (prostitution) throughout my 6 years’ sojourn.

“After this, my initial trafficker sold me to another burga (trafficker), I paid 1 million to the new man, all the payment is through prostitution.

“Coming to Nigeria now with only 200,000 naira that I squeezed to save, I don’t want to see my mother till I have enough,” Ms Omole narrated.

When asked why would she be angry to the extent of avoiding meeting her son upon her return to Nigeria, she burst into tears, weeping bitterly.

‘My Experience Was Horrific’

 

In another case, Ms Blessing Muhammad, who believed that her mother did her a great favour for spurring her to embark on the journey to Europe, said every mother will be happy when her child is about to travel to greener pastures.

“My mum bought clothes and make-over stuff for me when I was travelling,” she narrated.

“A popular big sister at Akungba approached my mother and convinced that she would help me travel to Europe with the promise that I will be doing my hairdressing work or I can be doing housemaid to be able to raise money and support my mother and siblings.

“My mother has not been feeling well and she needs support; I was second to the last born in the family. My elder siblings cannot be supportive because of their economic status.

“My journey through the desert was horrific; I was to be buried, the grave had been dug and just as I was about to be thrown into the grave, I miraculously showed signs of life as I was told, I came back to life. I left Nigeria on the 3rd of January, 2016 and the cold was at its peak at the time; I died and resurrected; that was what I can say

“What I experienced in the desert was a child’s play compared to the inhuman treatment meted out to me by my burga (trafficker) who happens to be from my town and same street.

“Despite the fact that I fell ill as a result of the harsh weather in the desert, my trafficker forced me to be ‘dis-virgined’ on the day I entered Libya by fixing me up with a client.

“To God, I used my body (prostitution) to pay my trafficker a total sum of 4.5 million naira.

“The worst part of my experience was the mental instability I found myself in; this was due to various trauma I passed through in the hands of my trafficker.

“My trafficker took nine of us out of Akungba; presently I am the only one returning due to my health. Though I thank God that I am recuperating fast but I have to return to Nigeria in order not to relapse.

“Any time I shout out of anxiety or anger, the mental illness will resurface.
“I cannot ask my enemies to embark on any journey out Nigeria to seek for any non-existing job at all.

“Our people are our enemies; they deceive us to leave Nigeria,” Ms Blessing Muhammed bitterly recounted.

 

Other agencies at the reception of the returnees included the Nigerian Immigration Service, Federal Ministry of Health, NAPTIP, FAAN, and the Nigeria Police Force.

NEMA Receives 159 Nigerian Returnees From Libya

The Nigerian returnees at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on February 23, 2022.

 

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has received 159 Nigerian returnees from Libya at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday.

NEMA Director-General, Mustapha Habib, who was represented by the Lagos Territorial Office Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, made this known via a statement issued to Channels Television.

Farinloye said the returnees were assisted back to the country and arrived at the Cargo Wing of the Lagos airport aboard Al Buraq Air with registration number 5A-DMG.

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Giving a breakdown of the figures, he said the Nigerians comprise 80 adult females, 67 adult males 11 children, and two infants.

The NEMA boss called on Nigerians to adopt a positive attitude towards life challenges, warning youths, who may think there is greener pastures elsewhere, against irregular migration.

“It is normal in life to struggle for better and improved livelihoods but in the struggle, we must avoid endangering our lives,” he said.

“I wish to state that there is nowhere in the world that its citizens will not have to strive in attaining good life within the limited resources available in that country.

“Nigeria is well endowed, far more than most countries that young Nigerians are travelling to in seeking greener pastures that are no longer there. What we need to do is for all of us to look inward and avail ourselves of the countless opportunities in Nigeria.

“The present government has been providing an enabling environment for us to thrive and will continue to cooperate with development partners in creating level playing grounds for all Nigerians in the country.”

See photos below:

 

Italy Arrests Egyptian After Cold Kills Seven Migrants

File photo of migrants on a boat.

 

Italian police said Saturday they had arrested an Egyptian suspected of trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean during a trip that left seven people dead from hypothermia.

The suspect is accused of organising the dangerous crossing by a boat carrying 287 people from Libya. Most were suffering from the cold when they were rescued by the coast guard on January 25.

Police in the Sicilian city of Agrigento said in a statement that the ordeal on the overcrowded, 16-metre boat ended “with the death, by hypothermia, of seven Bangladeshi citizens, due to the inhumane conditions of the voyage.”

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The 38-year-old suspect, who was identified through witness testimony of survivors, had already been sentenced for a 2011 people smuggling crime in Sicily, police said, without providing further detail.

Winter weather has not been a deterrent for migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year despite freezing temperatures and rough seas.

So far this year, some 10,570 migrants have reached Europe by sea, out of a total of 11,986, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Some 229 have died or gone missing in the attempt to reach the continent.

AFP