Thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe were rescued off the coast of Libya on Monday morning after their overcrowded wooden boats sent people falling into the Mediterranean Sea.
The refugees, many of them from Eritrea, jumped into the water from more than 20 boats roughly 13 miles north of Sabratha, a coastal city in Libya. They were helped by the Italian Coast Guard and workers for a non-governmental organization.
Images show people struggling to swim in the water and groups clustered together in the rescue vessels.
Large numbers of small children who apparently braved the perilous journey along with their families can be seen seated on the laps of adults.
In one image, clusters of personal belongings are shown scattered around the deck of an abandoned ship.
Imagery of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea has become iconic in recent years, as hundreds of thousands seek safety or employment by journeying to Europe from the shores of Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and Turkey.
The UN reports that 271,218 of people arrived by sea this year, and that 3,167 who attempted such a trip are either missing or dead.
Although much attention has focused on refugees from war-torn Syria, many refugees are also from Eritrea.
Hundreds of thousands have fled Eritrea, located on the horn of Africa and bordering Sudan, due to the country's violent, repressive government and limited opportunity for many citizens, according to rights organizations.
"Eritrea’s dismal human rights situation, exacerbated by indefinite military conscription, has led thousands of Eritreans to flee every month," according to Human Rights Watch.
The group cites forced labor, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, restrictions on freedoms of expression and movement, and repression of religious freedom as being among the incentives Eritreans have to flee their country.
July 30, 2016 (EL-FASHER) - Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, (aka Hametti) said his fighters have arrested about 600 Ethiopian illegal migrants near Sudan’s border with Libya and Egypt.
SRF field commander Mohamed Hamdan (Hametti) speaks in a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday May 14, 2014 (ST)
Last June, hundreds of RSF elements have been deployed in the remote desert of the Northern State shortly after complaint by the governor of drug and human trafficking by the criminal networks.
On Saturday, Sudanese army’s sixth infantry division in North Darfur capital El-Fasher has celebrated the return of the RSF from the Northern State.
Speaking during the celebration, Daglo said his forces arrested about 600 illegal Ethiopian migrants and thwarted several human trafficking operations near Sudan’s border with Egypt and Libya and at Al-Nakheel area in the Sahara desert.
He pointed those illegal migrants have been handed over to the authorities in North Darfur as a prelude to repatriate them into their home country.
The RSF commander said the media has turned a blind eye on numerous offences committed by rebel groups including killing incidents, displacement of civilians and destruction of civil institutions.
Daglo hailed discipline among RSF fighters, saying Sudan became a crossing point for illegal migrants seeking to travel to Europe and the United States.
He called on the West to appreciate efforts exerted by the Sudanese government to combat human trafficking and illegal migration across the Sahara.
Sudan is considered as a country of origin and transit for the illegal migration and human trafficking. Thousands of people from Eritrea and Ethiopia are monthly crossing the border into the Sudanese territories on their way to Europe through Libya or Egypt.
For his part, the commander of the sixth infantry division Ashraf Mahdi El-Rifaie said North Darfur became free of rebellion due to efforts of the Sudanese army, RSF and the rest of the regular forces.
“The RSF carried out its full role and combed the area of the rebel remnants and human traffickers” he said
He added that the RSF managed to free hundreds of foreigners from the grip of human traffickers on the desert near the Egyptian border.
Earlier this month, Daglo said his men arrested over 300 illegal immigrants heading to Libya across the remote desert of Northern State.
Deputy Governor of North Darfur, Mohamed Braima, for his part, described the RSF as the right arm of the Sudanese army, saying they play a major role in maintaining peace and security.
He pointed that the security situation in Darfur is stable, saying the government works to amend the social fabric and hold tribal reconciliations to unify the internal front and address the effects of war.
Earlier this year, the European Union granted a €100m development package to address the root causes of irregular migration in Sudan. The financial support came after pledge by the Sudanese government to cooperate with Brussels to stop human trafficking to Europe.
In January 2014, the Sudanese parliament approved an anti-human trafficking law which punishes those involved with human trafficking with up to 20 years imprisonment.
The RSF, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
The militia was reactivated and restructured again in August 2013 under the command of NISS to fight the alliance of rebel groups from Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) bureauin Cairo has responded to the death of an Oromo woman following a protest outside their office on Tuesday.
Although reports about the incident remain vague, two Oromoasylum seekers allegedly set themselves on fire in front of the UNHCR's headquarters in 6th October City. The incident reportedly took place as part of a protest led by Ethiopia's Oromo community that sought to demand the right to seek asylum with the UNHCR.
Tarik Argaz, a public information and communications officer at UNHCR, told Daily News Egypt: "We are very saddened by the incident."
Three people were allegedly injured and transported for treatment, according to Argaz. It is not clear whether that number includes the woman who died as a result of her injuries. A source previously told Daily News Egypt that the woman who died had attempted to put out a fire on another protester when she caught fire.
Argaz debunked the Oromo people's claims that their asylum demands were being ignored. "The numbers of asylum seekers in Egypt are increasing," he said, noting that UNHCR does not deal with asylum seekers according to their origin. "The decisions are based on legal criteria," he added.
He further claimedthat the UNHCR recently granted asylum to a "fair number" of Oromo people.
"The decision to grant asylum cannot be altered by external pressure," Argaz concluded.
In a statement released on Wednesday, UNHCR attributed the Oromo woman's death to a "violent" incident, without going into further details.
The statement also said: 'UNHCR is mindful of the frustrations and anxieties that asylum seekers and refugees may feel because of lengthy procedures, due to the high number of applicants in Egypt. As UNHCR is committed to ensure fair, consistent and transparent processes for asylum-seekers and refugees of all nationalities, it calls for the cooperation by all refugee communities and appeals for their understanding and non-violence.'
This protest was part of continued attempts by members of the refugee community in Egypt to demand that the UNHCR recognise their communities, among other demands for fair treatment.
The Oromo people are an ethnic group primarily in Ethiopia, but also in other neighbouring countries. Although the group is considered the ethnic majority in Ethiopia, they are largely politically marginalised and forced to assimilate, which has led to many Oromo people choosing to flee Ethiopia and seek asylum elsewhere.
The Egyptian government signed a memorandum of understanding in 1953 that makes the UNHCR solely responsible for registering and determining the status of refugees in the country.
According to the UNHCR's website, as of December 2015 Egypt was host to over 180,000 refugees from around the region, predominantly from Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Iraq.