At least 27 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have died in recent days near the border with Tunisia and Libya.
The Libyan authorities stated that around 27 migrants of whom all were suspected to be from the sub-Saharan African region in Libya’s western desert located near the border with Libya and Tunisia, according to, The Associated Press (AP), August 9.
Libya’s Interior Ministry said in a Facebook post on August 8, that the bodies were discovered recently close to the border. In the same post it added that a forensic team had been sent to the area, as well as the post including pictures of African migrants receiving treatment from the country’s medical teams.
Mohamed Hamouda, a spokesperson for the Libyan government, confirmed on August 9, confirmed the discovery of the bodies to The Associated Press. Mr. Hamouda refused to provide any further details at this moment in time.
In recent months, Tunisian security forces began removing some migrants from coastal areas, shipping them elsewhere and dumping some of them in the desert. Earlier this month, Tunisia’s Interior Minister, Kamal Feki, admitted that small groups of sub-Saharan migrants trying to enter the country are being sent to the desert border areas with Libya and Algeria.
This comes after Kais Saied, Tunisia’s President made some inflammatory remarks about black African migrants earlier this year. In February, the president claimed that immigration was a plot aimed at changing the country’s demography and ordered security forces to take action against the “hordes” of undocumented migrants.
His unsavoury remarks have resulted in the rise of attacks against black African migrants by the authorities, landlords and ordinary people in the country.
Tunisia’s eastern coast has overtaken neighboring Libya as the region’s main launching point for migrants trying to get to Italy and other parts of Europe in small boats.
With migrants pouring into the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax mostly, tensions have risen between migrants and the locals.
The National Human Rights Committee in Libya, a local rights group that works with the Libyan authorities, said it believes Tunisian security forces had forcefully expelled the migrants and left them in the desert without food or water.
Ahmed Hamza, head of the committee, told the AP the bodies were discovered by Libya’s border guard earlier this week.
A spokesperson for Libya’s border force denied recovering any dead bodies near the Tunisian border on Tuesday. The AP has been unable to collect the conflicting narratives.
At least 35 bodies have been recovered from the Tunisia-Libyan border since the migrant expulsions began in July. Statistics compiled by the committee that Mr. Hamza chairs show that over 750 black African immigrants have been expelled from the country into Libya since last month.
Human traffickers have profited from Libya’s instability, particularly over the past decade, making high sums of money through international smuggling networks.
The Libyan border force declined to make any further comments regarding the discovery of bodies.