How a migrant boat was left adrift on the Mediterranean

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In the early hours of Saturday, 26 March last year, 72 men, women and children made their way down to a small inflatable dinghy on the shores of Tripoli under the cover of darkness and set sail for what they hoped would be a new life in Europe.

People smugglers were doing brisk business on the back of the chaos and violence of Libya’s revolutionary uprising and their work enjoyed the explicit support of Colonel Gaddafi who, as Nato airstrikes began pummelling his country, threatened to unleash an “unprecedented wave of illegal immigration” on to Europe’s southern borders.

Those that lived to tell the tale remember that Libyan soldiers accompanied their group down to the boat. On arrival, their basic provisions were removed by the smugglers in an effort to maximise space so that even more migrants could be crammed on board.

 

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