The Chief of the International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) Mission in Libya, Federico Soda, deplored the death of twenty people in the Libyan desert near the Chadian boarder.
“The death of 20 people in the Libyan desert yesterday is yet another wake-up call for the whole international community and a reminder that we are very far from achieving the goal of ‘leaving no one behind’, the mantra of the 2030 Agenda,” Soda said in a statement on Friday, according to a United Nations (UN) statement.
On the 28th of June, the bodies of 18 people believed to be Chadian, and two Libyans, were reportedly recovered near the border area between the two countries.
According to the Libyan Ambulance and Emergency Services, it is believed they all died of dehydration. “The loss of lives we are witnessing both in the Mediterranean Sea and in the deserts of southern Libya are both unacceptable and avoidable,” said Soda.
According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, more than 2,000 migrant deaths have been documented since 2014 in the Sahara Desert alone, but experts believe the numbers are higher.
“These tragedies must be a call to action to provide minimal standards of protection to migrants, enable search and rescue operations, reinforce humanitarian border management, and provide urgently required assistance in this extremely remote area,” said Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.
Since the intensification of gold mining in northern Chad in 2012, the Chad-Libya border area has seen an increase of incidents related to migrants being abandoned by traffickers and smugglers, or transporters getting lost.
Last month, clashes between gold miners in the town of Kouri Bougoudi, close to the border with Libya, left hundreds dead and displaced an estimated 10,000 mine workers in northern Chad.
“In the absence of safe migration pathways, migrants take risky roads, fall into the hands of traffickers, or get lost in the desert – with often devastating consequences,” Schaefer said.
The IOM reiterated its call to protect migrants and their rights through dedicated search and rescue efforts, and the investigation and prosecution of smugglers and traffickers who take advantage of people’s despair and vulnerability.