First Published: 2018-01-12

Dozens of migrants arrested in east Libya
Authorities in eastern Libya say 81 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia will face deportation.
Middle East Online

By Ayman al-Warfalli - BENGHAZI

Libya is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea

Authorities in eastern Libya said on Thursday they had arrested and would deport 81 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia who had escaped from smugglers after failing to reach Europe.

The migrants were reported to authorities by an imam at a mosque on the coast to the south of the Libyan city of Benghazi, officials said.

"They were arrested in the Zueitina area at a camp of illegal migrants," said Ahmed al-Arifi, an official from the department for countering illegal migration in the eastern city of Benghazi. "They were arrested for deportation back to their countries."

Libya is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea, with nearly 120,000 crossing the central Mediterranean last year.

Almost all leave from western Libya, though departures dropped sharply in July last year when some armed factions began blocking crossings. Most of the migrants are from West African countries, though some East Africans enter Libya through Sudan.

Arifi said a total of 5,686 migrants had been deported from eastern Libya last year, up from 2,912 in 2016.

One of the Eritrean migrants, speaking at a detention centre in Benghazi, said he had arrived in Libya in March last year from Sudan, after paying $4,000 for the journey.

He was taken across the Sahara desert to the western Libyan smuggling hub of Sabratha, and waited there with other migrants for about four months before being told the sea route had been closed.

Armed groups began preventing boat departures in Sabratha in July, and a major smuggling group was pushed out of the city in September.

The Eritrean said he had then crossed back through the town of Bani Walid to Ajdabiya in the east, close to Zueitina. Smugglers had demanded another $2,000 for the trip to Europe, but he was unable to pay and fled mistreatment at their hands.

"I wanted to go to Italy to work but unfortunately it wasn't possible," he said. "We suffer from severe poverty in our country and there's a dictatorial system.

"Now because we were treated badly by smugglers we are suffering from illnesses and skin diseases. We don't want to return to our country, we want to go to Europe."

 

UN Security Council lenient to Turkey’s Syria offensive

Washington probes Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’

Tillerson to present US strategy on Syria to European, Arab allies

Russia pension funds may invest in Aramco IPO

Iranian woman skydiver looks to break down stereotypes

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militia amid US alarm

Turkey arrests dozens accused of ‘terror propaganda’

Three French female jihadists face possible death penalty in Iraq

Women journalists protest separation during Pence visit to Jerusalem

Egypt military accuses presidential hopeful of committing crimes

Israeli minister calls to ban author praising Palestinian teen

Qatar supports Turkey’s offensive against Kurds

World powers meet on Syria chemical attacks

Morocco's king appoints five new ministers

Pence pledges US embassy move by end of 2019 on Jerusalem trip

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russia invites Kurds to join Syria peace process

Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

Closer look at pro-Ankara rebels amassing around Afrin

Pence set for Palestinian snub

Abbas to ask EU to recognise Palestinian state

Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 bln in Yemen aid

Mattis: Turkey gave US advance warning on Syria operation

Yemen releases budget for first time in three years

Saudi calls for cooperation between OPEC, non-OPEC countries

France presses Turkey to end offensive against Kurds

The changing faces of al-Qaeda in Syria

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer