“The death of 20 people yesterday in the Libyan desert is another wake-up call for the entire international community and a reminder that we are very far from achieving the goal of leaving no one behind,” the mantra Agenda 2030” said Federico Soda, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Libya.
“Unacceptable and Preventable”
On June 28, the bodies of 18 people believed to be from Chad and two Libyans were reportedly found near the border between the two countries.
According to the Libyan Ambulance and Emergency Service, they are all believed to have died of dehydration.
“The people we see both in the Mediterranean and in the deserts of southern Libya are unacceptable and avoidable,” Mr Soda said.
The Sahara Desert is one of the most dangerous and deadly migration routes in the world.
More than 2,000 migrant deaths have been recorded in the Sahara Desert alone since 2014, according to the IOM Missing Migrants Project, but experts believe the numbers are higher.
“These tragedy should be a call to action to ensure minimum standards for the protection of migrantsensure search and rescue operations, strengthen humanitarian controls at the border and provide urgently needed assistance in this extremely remote area,” said Anne Kathryn Schaefer, IOM Head of Mission in Chad.
Deaths associated with gold mining
Since the intensification of gold mining in northern Chad in 2012, there has been an increase in incidents of traffickers and smugglers abandoning migrants or lost carriers near the border between Chad and Libya.
And last month, clashes between gold miners in the town of Kouri Bugudi, near the Libyan border, left hundreds dead and displaced about 10,000 miners in northern Chad.
“In the absence of safe migration routes migrants take dangerous roads, fall into the hands of traffickers or get lost in the desert — often with devastating consequences,” Ms Schaefer said.
Call for protection
Between January and March, more than 45,000 migrants were registered at “flow watchpoints” in Faye, Zouarca and Ounianga Kebir in northern Chad.
Of the migrants interviewed by IOM during this period, 32 per cent went to Libya, despite the lack of basic prerequisites for their safety and protection.
IOM reiterated protect migrants and their rights through targeted search and rescue operations, and the investigation and prosecution of smugglers and traffickers who take advantage of people’s desperation and vulnerability.