…Nigeria retrieves 5, out of more than 50 killed in last Wednesday’s blast***
With over 50 Africans, many of them Nigerians newly killed last Wednesday, via air strike, at the migrant detention camp in Toujurah, a new batch of Africans fleeing Libya into Europe this time, no fewer than 80 drowned on Wednesday after their boat capsized.
The UN migration agency indicated that their boat capsized off the coast of Tunisia, off the port town of Zarzis and only four had been saved, while 81 were missing, even as dozens were confirmed drowned. The few survivors were rescued, more than 14 kilometres off Zarzis.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), according to the Guardian (UK) affirmed that Fishermen pulled four men from the sinking boat, and one of the four later died in hospital. The survivors informed coastguards they set out from Libya and that dozens had drowned.
Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the IOM, tweeted: “More updates are needed in order to confirm what happened and the actual number of missing.”
At least 65 people heading for Europe from Libya drowned last May when their boat capsized off Tunisia.
Libya’s western coast is a main departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe with the help of human traffickers, though numbers have dropped because of an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coastguard.
Although fighting in Libya has made the situation more difficult for those involved in people-trafficking rackets, international aid officials have warned it could also prompt Libyans to flee the country.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned the air strike on the Tajoura Migrant Detention Centre in Tripoli, Libya, that occurred on Wednesday leading to the death of over 50 people.
Mr Friday Akpan, the acting spokesperson of the ministry, made this known in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
He described the attack as unwarranted, inhuman and without regard to human lives, adding that 80 others people were injured.
He said that Nigerian Mission officials had visited the centre and preliminary findings confirmed that nine Nigerian men lost their lives in the attack.
Akpan said that the mission has identified and taken custody of three women, one man, a toddler and a 10-year-old boy.
The ministry’s spokesperson said the mission has also requested for the full list and particulars of the migrants in the affected camp.
“Meanwhile, mission awaits the list from the centre to ascertain whether there are other Nigerians affected by the blast.
“The ministry commiserates with the families of the victims and calls for an independent investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice,’’ Akpan said.