The bodies of children on the Libyan beach. Open Arms: “Abandoned for three days”

Lifeless bodies on a beach. Some are very young children. The sea returned them swollen and in a state of decomposition. The photographs published on Twitter by the founder of the Catalan NGO Open Arms, Oscar Camps leave breathless: «I am still in shock from the horror of these images – he tweets – small children and women who only had dreams and ambitions for life. They were abandoned for more than three days on a beach in Zuwara, Libya. Nobody cares about them. ‘ The bodies, writes Libya expert journalist Nancy Porsia, reports that they were found last Saturday and that the same day were recovered by the military and buried in the Abu Qamash cemetery, west of Zuwara.

A few hours after the publication, Oscar Camps tells the press: «European governments, and also a lot of information, often say that these people ‘are dead’. In fact, they were “made to die”. It is not a question of “accidents” or unforeseeable “misfortunes”. Europe will have to answer for it. Because these tragedies are repeated under the gaze of the authorities in the Mediterranean ». According to Camps, “these people were not” made to die “only by traffickers, but by those governments that negotiated with the Libyan mafia. Thus they legitimized the criminal organizations, in exchange for a few more barrels of oil and a few fewer migrants. Without asking in exchange for even the slightest respect for fundamental human rights in prison camps. And now the Libyan mafia clans are raising the price again and blackmailing our governments ”. “Every time one of these migrants is tortured or left to die at sea in the interest of our countries – concludes Camps – a question comes to mind that sooner or later we will have to answer:” who will sit in the court in The Hague? “”.

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The reconstruction

Who I am? Are they victims of a migrant shipwreck? And which? When could this have happened? The IOM, the United Nations Organization for Migration, is also trying to find out more. «They are dramatic images, it is difficult to understand what happened – says IOM spokesperson for the Mediterranean, Flavio Di Giacomo – which departure they correspond to, which shipwreck it is; and as long as it is a shipwreck that has been heard of. From Libya, our colleagues tell us that most likely they are bodies brought from the sea, but we don’t know anything else for now.

In recent weeks, these were the days when over two thousand migrants arrived in Lampedusa in a few days, dozens of boats left from the coasts of Libya and Tunisia. On at least two occasions, the rubber boats on which there were migrants have been shipwrecked and many have lost their lives, as announced at the time by IOM Libya. On May 13, spokeswoman Safa Msehli wrote of “at least 17 migrants drowned off the Tunisian coast, according to the two survivors and rescued by the authorities. The boat would have left Zuwara two days ago ». So on 11 May. Then, it is always Msehli who reports a second shipwreck on Tuesday 18 May, again in front of the Tunisian coast: “At least 50 migrants drowned, after leaving Libya on Sunday, according to the 30 survivors saved by the Tunisian authorities”.

Are they victims of one of these two shipwrecks? Were there others that nothing is known about? There is currently no way to understand this. The IOM has calculated that in the week between 16 and 22 May alone, nearly 1,500 people were rescued at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard and brought back to Tripoli. But the humanitarian organization has news that in the same period several bodies were recovered at sea, right between Zuwara and Tripoli, western Libya, therefore bordering on Tunisia: 4 bodies off the coast of Tripoli on May 16, one off the coast of Sabratha on 17, two bodies on 21 May and another on 22 off Zawiya, one body on 22 May off Zuwara. Other bodies in the same area had been recovered the previous week: May 9 (one body), May 10 (two), 12 (one). As if to say that, however, there were many deaths at sea in the month of May, in front of western Libya. The IOM estimates that since the beginning of the year at least 173 have died and 459 have been missing in the central Mediterranean: in all 632 lives lost. There were 978 in all of 2020. And the summer season has not yet begun, that of the many departures.

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