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>> The flow of migrants continues across the Central Mediterranean from Libya to Italy despite the onset of winter and worsening sea and weather conditions. When one considers that they're mostly using unseaworthy boats, such as the rubber dinghies, it's pretty evident that if it were not for the few NGOs left operating in this area, most of these desperate people would die at sea.
I'm Darrin Zammit Lupi from Reuters. I've just completed a week long mission on the Aquarius, a search and rescue ship operated by humanitarian NGOs SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres. That they continue to come despite the fact that the number of humanitarian rescue ships has reduced drastically gives light to the claim by many that the NGOs were a pull factor for these migrants.
Many of the 300 mostly West African migrants rescued during this mission related stories that are hard to comprehend. Many say they suffered torture, abuse and trauma in Libya. Several display the wounds they suffered in detention camps. Most were very weak and malnourished when rescued, because of the horrific conditions in the Libyan detention centers.
One Nigerian man said he'd been sold several times between different armed gangs. Another testimony, a truly shocking testimony, was that of a ten year old girl traveling with her elder sister. She had horrific burns all over her legs caused by boiling water being thrown over her when she was being sexually assaulted.
Migrants spoke to me about being used as a form of currency as they are passed along from smuggling gang to smuggling gang. Kidnappings, beatings, torture, the murder of colleagues, these are all common occurrences. They all paint a very desperate picture for the migrants stuck in Libya hoping to reach Europe.