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Refugees shot dead in Libyan capital Tripoli were forced out of overcrowded UN facility

Over 50 migrants were killed after a Tajoura detention facility was bombed in July [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 January, 2020

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Two Eritrean refugees were shot dead in Tripoli after being forced out of a UNHCR-run facility plagued by allegations of starvation 10 days previously.
Two Eritrean asylum seekers were shot dead in the Libyan capital on Thursday, days after the UN refugee agency pressed them to leave its facility due to overcrowding.

The UNHCR confirmed the deaths in a statement on Friday, saying it was "deeply saddened" by the deaths in Tripoli.

The pair were shot inside their accommodation, but the remaining circumstances around their deaths are still unclear. 

The two men were among dozens forced out of the UNHCR-run Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) 10 days ago, according to three refugees speaking to AP on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Read more: The UN says 'foreign warplanes' carried out refugee massacre in Libya. They're probably Emirati

The facility was promoted as an "alternative to detention" but when the numbers of refugees increased, the UN offered money and pressed new arrivals to leave. The slain refugees were among those who accepted the money and left.

Approximately 4,000 Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees live in urban areas in Libya, according to the UNHCR register.

In November, the UN was accused of attempting to "starve out" refugees and asylum seekers in the GDF, after hundreds of new arrivals - including 100 minors - were not given food for weeks. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) assessed that they were "currently starving" except for receiving food smuggled by refugees from another part of the centre.

An aid worker told the Guardian the centre was starving those inside the facility to get them to leave.

There are currently thousands of refugees held in Libya's detention centers, where abuses are rampant. The north African country is a waypoint for migrants fleeing war, torture, poverty and human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East to Europe.

The majority of those relying on the GDF have already tried to reach Europe by sea, but were returned to Libya by the EU-backed Libyan coastguard monitoring Mediterranean crossings.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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