Gory tales: Migrants returned to Libya face hunger, detention, violence- MSF

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…As Troops kill 58 bandits***

The Medical Charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Wednesday told frightening tales of what Europe-bound migrants, who were recently caught at sea and returned to Libya are facing, as they become trapped in hellish living conditions, exacerbated by hunger and violence. 

The MSF account was further worsened by Italy’s hardline Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini position, who on Monday vowed to stop migrant inflows from North Africa, expressing satisfaction that 393 people had been intercepted and taken back to Libya; and that all is well with them. 

But the MSF insisted that all is not well with them as they “are now locked up in overcrowded detention facilities.

“The facilities have been overwhelmed with the new arrivals and are struggling to cope, leading to a further deterioration of already dire detention conditions.”

“The people detained have virtually no access to open air space and little access to clean water and food.

“Food is insufficient and totally inadequate to meet the nutritional needs of people with serious medical conditions, children and pregnant women,” MSF added, noting that some presently “are suffering from malnutrition, hypothermia, or severe diarrhoea.

“Some report that before trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, they had been held captive by traffickers for weeks, sometimes months, and were deprived of food and systematically abused and tortured.”

MSF staff member was present when 106 migrants arrived in al-Khoms. “Our teams organised 10 medical referrals to a nearby hospital.

“In spite this response, a 15 year-old boy later died in hospital,” the organisation said.

MSF also said that among the 250 migrants, who disembarked in Misrata and Khoms there were “women, some of whom are pregnant, babies and young children under seven years old,” who were all placed in detention.

Similarly, the number of asylum applications filed in Germany fell by 16.5 per cent to a total of 185,853 applications in the year 2018, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) said on Wednesday.

Most applications came from asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The declining number of asylum applications in 2018 showed that “after the peak of the refugee situation in autumn 2015, a continuous decline in the number of asylum seekers could be observed”, stated German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer.

Back in 2016, the German office for migration BAMF registered more than 700,000 applications from asylum seekers in Germany.

Many of the asylum seekers came to Germany during the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, but did not submit their applications until the following year.

According to interior minister, net immigration would be “well below the corridor for immigration of 180,000 to 220,000 persons per year as agreed in the coalition agreement”.

This showed “that the many measures we have introduced are taking effect increasingly and sustainably,” Seehofer added.

A total of 34.7 per cent of asylum applications in Germany were rejected while 30.2 per cent were closed for reasons such as withdrawal of the applications or provisions under the Dublin procedure.

Seehofer said that the responsible member state would be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.

Notwithstanding the declining number of asylum applications, Seehofer called for an “ordering, controlling and limiting refugee policy”, as many people would continue to come to Germany asserting “a need for protection”. 

In the meantime, the Army said yesterday that 58 bandits had been killed by troops in clearance operations within Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara axis.

It said 78 kidnap victims were rescued.

The Army said 18 camps of the bandits operating in forests within the area were destroyed by troops of Operation Sharan Daji, adding that arms and ammunition were recovered from them.

It said two soldiers and two members of a vigilance group were killed during the encounter.

A statement by the Acting Force Information Officer for Operation Sharan Daji, Major Clement Abiade, said eight soldiers and six vigilance group members were injured during the clearance operation.

He said: “In line with the mandate of Operation Sharan Daji, troops began clearance operations into bandits’ enclaves in Zamfara and Katsina states on January 19, to last till June. The operation is being conducted simultaneously in collaboration with security agencies and vigilance groups to achieve synergy. The offensive is designed to identify and destroy bandits’ camps/enclaves in the area of operation.

“Already, the operation has recorded some successes. On 20 January, troops came into contact with a large gang of bandits armed with sophisticated firearms and rocket-propelled grenades at Dumburum and Gando forests leading to fierce gun battle, which lasted several hours. The bandits were forced to abandon their camps due to superior firepower during these encounters.

“The items recovered from the bandits include, five fabric national rifles, four AK 47 rifles, 10 locally-made rifles, one locally- fabricated pistol and 40 motorcycles.

“The casualty figures on the bandits’ side were 58 bandits neutralised, while one was captured alive. Troops also destroyed 18 camps and rescued 75 kidnap victims held in some of these camps. The freed captives, who were mostly from local communities in Zamfara State, were debriefed and reunited with their families.”

Additional report from The Nation