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Video: Fearing torture, migrants refuse to disembark at Libya port

FRANCE 24 screen grab

Dozens of migrants and refugees aboard a merchant vessel at a Libyan port are refusing to disembark for fear of "detention and torture". FRANCE 24’s James André and Julie Dungelhoeff report from the North African country.

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The group of at least 79 refugees and migrants, including several children, have been aboard the boat in the western Libyan port of Misrata for almost 10 days. The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, said they hailed from Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia.

The migrants were intercepted in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe and brought back to Libya by a Panama-flagged merchant vessel "in clear breach of international law", according to rights group Amnesty International. Amnesty has urged European and Panama authorities to ensure the safety of those on board, stressing that Libya “cannot be considered a safe place to disembark”.

Plunged into chaos following the fall and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has become a prime transit point for sub-Saharan African migrants making dangerous clandestine bids to reach Europe.

Many migrants intercepted or rescued at sea find themselves held in detention centres where they face dire conditions. The UNHCR warned last week that the situation there continues to deteriorate because of food shortages and the spread of diseases including tuberculosis.

Click on player above to watch full report.

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