UN: Migrants who Tried to Cross Mediterranean Brought Back to Libya

FILE - Migrants are brought to shore after being intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean Sea, in Garaboli Libya, on Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad, File)
FILE - Migrants are brought to shore after being intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean Sea, in Garaboli Libya, on Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad, File)
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UN: Migrants who Tried to Cross Mediterranean Brought Back to Libya

FILE - Migrants are brought to shore after being intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean Sea, in Garaboli Libya, on Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad, File)
FILE - Migrants are brought to shore after being intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean Sea, in Garaboli Libya, on Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad, File)

Nearly 500 migrants who tried to cross the central Mediterranean have been brought back to Libya, a spokesman for the UN migration agency said on Friday, two days after charity groups lost contact with the boat carrying them.

"Libya is an unsafe port where migrants should never be brought back," Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) wrote on Twitter.

He told Reuters there were 485 migrants and they docked in the Libyan port of Benghazi on Friday. No further details were provided to IOM at this stage.

Alarm Phone, a group that picks up calls from migrant vessels in distress, had no signs from the boat since Wednesday morning.

At the time, the boat was adrift, with no working engine, in high seas about 320 km (200 miles) north of Libya and more than 400 km away from Malta or Italy's southern island of Sicily.

The Italian Coast Guard reported on Thursday the rescue of 423 and 671 migrants in two separate operations in Italian search and rescue waters, and Alarm Phone said they were unrelated to the missing boat.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.