A Syrian English teacher who was stranded on a small boat between Malta and Italy informed an Associated Press photographer about the atrocities he saw committed against asylum-seekers in Libya. The Syrian was waiting to be rescued when he told the photographer. “Last year I saw people getting killed by the Libyan coastguard, maybe eight or seven people from African nationalities,” said Mohamed Noor, an asylum-seeker from Daraa, Syria.
Noor reported that the Africans had been shot at Zuwara, and he also mentioned that two Syrian women had been raped. In 2021, Noor ran away from his home to avoid serving in what he referred to as “Bashar al-army,” Assad’s, which was a required military draft. Noor and five other men left Libya and were at sea for a total of forty hours before they were found by Frontex, the European Union’s border and coast guard agency, in the search and rescue zone set up by Malta.
As the ship from the non-governmental organization Open Arms came closer to the small boat, it discovered that there were five men on board. Three of them were from Syria, while the other two were from Libya. While they waited for the Italian Coast Guard to arrive, the nurse from Open Arms offered them medication, blankets, and suggestions on how to shield themselves from the sun. One of them was severely dehydrated. A photographer from the Associated Press rode along with the Open Arms rescue workers in their dinghy and videotaped Noor’s talk with him. Because of technical problems, he wasn’t able to quickly send in the interview from the ship.
Noor, who was seated at the stern of his boat, explained that he had suffered a serious injury to his foot while swimming away from the Libyan coast patrol. If you make an attempt to argue with them, they will simply shoot you in front of everyone else. Even if there are a lot of people in the street, they will still shoot you, and no one else can do anything about it. So that’s it.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants who hoped to reach Europe have made their way through Libya. This is a country that does not have a functioning government and has been fragmented for years between rival administrations in the east and west. Each of these administrations receives support from arms groups and foreign governments. Migrants who have been held in detention camps in Libya frequently recount the crimes they witnessed while they were held there, as well as the brutality they suffered after being apprehended by the Libyan Coast Guard. However, Noor brought out the possibility that homicides can even take place in public places.
However, human rights violations and crimes committed against migrants and refugees have been exhaustively recorded by the United Nations and other human rights organizations. The Associated Press has not been able to independently verify the accounts. After being saved by the Italian Coast Guard, Noor and his traveling companions went to Lampedusa.
The following day, the Open Arms rescue ship came across a wooden ship that was also fleeing from Libya with dozens of refugees on board. As the people who were going to save them got closer, the boat flipped and started to sink, leaving all of the migrants floating in the water. The entire group of migrants, which included a woman and two children, was successfully rescued by the crew of rescue workers. Each and every one of them was from the countries of Eritrea and Sudan.
As of August 14th, 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that more than 70,000 people seeking asylum have made the journey over the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, and that more than 900 of them have either died or gone missing during the journey.