Aid group reports violence against migrants in Libya centres

Aid group reports severe violence against migrants at 'inhumane' Libya detention centres
2 min read
08 October, 2021
Libyan authorities began raiding homes of mostly refugees and migrants claiming a clampdown on illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
Migrants have been intercepted at sea since 2017 and bought back to Libyan detention centres [Getty]

At least 5000 migrants have been arrested and held in detention centres in Libya over the last five days, where many of those are subject to extreme physical and sexual violence, as well as unsanitary living conditions., an aid group has reported.

Many of the detention centres are overcrowded and don’t have access to adequate food, water, or medical assistance where, due to the brutal arrests, people are in need of urgent medical care, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said. 

“We are seeing security forces take extreme measures to arbitrarily detain more vulnerable people in inhumane conditions in severely overcrowded facilities,” said MSF’s operations manager for Libya, Ellen van der Velden. 

“Entire families of migrants and refugees living in Tripoli have been captured, handcuffed, and transported to various detention centres. In the process, people have been hurt and even killed, families have been split up and their homes have been reduced to piles of rubble.”

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A young migrant was killed and five others suffered gunshot wounds according to the United Nations. 

“We were beaten in the process [during the raids], some people were beaten on their legs and suffered fractures,” a man told MSF. “They hit me on the head with the butt of a gun and I suffered serious injuries—the doctor had to stitch the wound and wrap it with 10 different dressings.”

The humanitarian NGO recently resumed carrying out vital services in three of the centres, Shara Zawiya, Al-Mabani, and Abu Salim, after nearly three months due to repeated incidences of violence against refugees and migrants. 

MSF had arranged an agreement with the authorities of the detention centres that basic living conditions would be met upon their return, however it was not upheld, said the INGO. 

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Earlier this week, Libyan authorities began raiding homes of mostly refugees and migrants claiming a clampdown on illegal immigration and drug trafficking. 

MSF has urged the Libyan authorities to end the arrests of vulnerable migrants and refugees and to release all people held illegally in the detention centres.