The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for investigation into the shooting that killed three migrants at a disembarkation point in western Libya.
“UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, deplores the tragic loss of three lives and calls for an urgent investigation following a shooting at Al Khums disembarkation point in Libya last night, following the interception of a boat by the Libya Coast Guard,” the UNHCR said in a statement on Tuesday.
The shooting occurred after more than 70 people disembarked from a vessel, the statement said. “This incident underlines starkly that Libya is not a safe port for disembarkation,” said UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation Vincent Cochetel.
“There is a need for increased search and rescue capacity on the Mediterranean, including NGO vessels, in order to increase the likelihood of rescue operations leading to disembarkation in safe ports outside of Libya. There is also a need for more solidarity between Mediterranean coastal states,” Cochetel added.
The UN envoy estimated that more than 6,000 refugees and migrants have been rescued at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned to Libya so far this year.
The UNHCR said that there are 47,859 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with it in Libya. Libya has been plagued by insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of the late leader Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, which made it a preferred point of departure for immigrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.