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REFUGEES who were rescued last week from a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean while attempting to flee Libya have told their rescuers of the horrific abuse they witnessed or were subjected to in the war-torn country.
A 20-year-old man from Ivory Coast told the crew of the Ocean Viking — a civil refugee rescue ship operated by French charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) — that he saw guards at the notorious Beni Walid illegal prison set his friend on fire. He died two days later.
A 15-year-old girl also from Ivory Coast, who had previously tried to cross the Mediterranean in August but was intercepted by the EU-funded Libyan Coastguard and returned to a detention centre, told the crew that the guards in Libya “do whatever they want to women.”
Another Ivorian refugee told the crew that “it is easier to die at sea than to live in Libya.”
The Ocean Viking rescued 104 people 50 miles off the coast of Libya last Friday and was assigned Tripoli as its port of safety.
The crew refused to accept this and instead requested that the Italian and Maltese maritime rescue co-ordination centres provide them with a place of safety on Sunday.
The ship had not been assigned a port by the time the Star went to print.
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