The International Organization for Migration has interviewed migrants who reached Lampedusa who witnessed the migrant boat carrying 500-600 people that sank just off the Libyan coast this past Thursday or Friday. IOM reports that persons who were preparing to leave Libya on a second migrant boat witnessed the accident involving the first boat. “Migrants … told IOM that after seeing what had happened to the first boat, many of them who had been waiting on land [preparing to board the second boat] changed their mind about making the sea journey to Italy. However, they claim that Libyan soldiers and officials forced them onto a waiting boat by firing their guns indirectly. Although this is the first time that IOM has been told of migrants being forced by Libyan officials to get on a boat, many have told IOM that they did not have to pay for their passage to Lampedusa while others say they have paid a nominal fee. However, they say that they been stripped by officials and soldiers of their savings and possessions, including mobile phones….”
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