According to information obtained Africa Monitors, from the wounded victims themselves, on the 25th of May 2018, Eritrean migrants who were held hostage by armed human traffickers in Beni-Welid, Libya, came under gunfire as two armed groups clashed for the possession of the trafficked Eritrean hostages. The incident happened as some of the hostages were ready to be transported to Bengazi to cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat. Those who were ready to be transported to Bengazi were those who paid the demanded ransom plus all other claimed amounts by the traffickers including transport claims.
photo: by victims
The incident happened when one armed group holding hostage the migrants came under fire by another armed group with the aim of forcefully taking control of the hostages. The hostage-takers responded with fire. As the two groups fought, the migrants tried to escape. Under such circumstances, some were caught up in the crossfire and got killed and wounded while the others got killed and wounded as they were directly targeted and shot at by both the armed groups to prevent them from escaping. As the result, 12 migrants were killed and 20 wounded. The 20 wounded are staying with some of the residents of Beni-Welid. They have not been treated for their wounds hence need medical help and protection. Their life is in danger both from their wounds and anticipated attacks from armed groups. They also do not trust the people with whom they are staying. They fear they are going to sell them or traffic them. Still, at the time this information was received (before 2 days) in the surrounding area, West of Beni-Welid fighting was ongoing between different armed groups.
On the same subject, in an interview with the BBC Tigrigna programme radio broadcast (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbzrCQb7jn8) the representative of UNHCR in Libya put the number of hostages who came under attack at 200 migrants composed of Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis. According to the representative, the Libya authorities have intervened and transported those migrants to save place and the UNHCR is intervening to provide them with basic needs and to ensure their protection and as well as search for them resettlements in other countries. However, the representative makes no reference to the wounded and it appears UNHCR is unaware of the 20 wounded in Beni –Welid.
Faced with such dangers of life and death, the injured migrants are calling for the UNHCR to intervene and evacuate them to a secure and safe place and provide them with necessary medical treatments.
Africa Monitors is very concerned that the lives of the injured migrants are in danger and demands immediate intervention to save them hence calls the Libyan government, UHCR and the European to act urgently to save them. Africa Monitors has no information regarding the total number of those who were held hostage at the time of the attack nor of the number who managed to escape. Africa Monitors has not been able to get the list of names of the 12 killed in the attack. Africa Monitors’ contact is reserved to provide names of the victims.
In the first week June, the victims were admitted to Beni-Welid public hospital through the help of a local NGO. Africa Monitors contact who himself is among the wounded could not identify the name of the NGO as he (and his group members) do not know Arabic language. Now they are getting treatment in Beni-Welid public hospital located at 14 street
On behalf of the victims, Africa Monitors has sent an appeal letter to the UNHCR office in Libya on the 2nd of June 2018 calling them to intervene to save the victims and provide them with medical treatments and protection. UNHCR Libya responded immediately to the appeal of Africa Monitors and requested further information about the victims and their contacts. Responding to the request, Africa monitors has provided the contact of the victims to UNHCR.