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Libyan coast guards force stranded migrants off rescue ship

FRANCE 24 screen grab

Libyan authorities on Tuesday forcibly disembarked more than 70 migrants who had refused to leave a cargo ship that rescued them before docking in a port west of Tripoli. FRANCE 24’s James André reports.

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The migrants and refugees had been taken to the port city of Misrata after they were rescued 10 days ago by a Panama-flagged ship as their boat began sinking off the coast of Libya.

Once there, 14 disembarked willingly but, in the first documented case of its kind, the other 92 refused to leave, citing fear of torture.

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.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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