Activists call for criminal probe into migrant deaths off Libya

A rights group called Wednesday for an international criminal investigation after 15 migrants died following 11 days drifting off the coast of Libya without help.

Their protest came as rights groups expressed growing concern about the plight of migrants attempting the dangerous Mediterranean crossing — and accused officials in several countries of blocking their efforts to help them.

In a tweet Claus-Peter Reisch, founder of the German group Mission Lifeline, accused the EU agencies Frontex and Eunavfor Med, which police the bloc’s border and coastguard activities, of “crimes against humanity” and called on “the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate”.

Axel Steier, a spokesman for the group, said that both agencies “have military vessels, satellites, reconnaissance planes covering all of this zone.

“They had the means to see that these refugees were in distress. But they did nothing, they left them to die,” he added. “That’s called a crime.”

A group of 25 migrants left Sabratha, 70 kilometres (44 miles) west of Tripoli, in a bid to reach the Italian coast, said the Libyan Red Cross.

But the currents meant that they drifted for 11 days without food or water, capsizing off Misrata, 270 kilometres further east, and washing up on a beach Monday evening.

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