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African migrants detained in Libya. “In prison, every morning they would pick up another corpse, people in a coma, sometimes more than one body, maybe 4-5 in a week. We never slept at night – there was no room to lay down so we would just sit” / Photo: UNHCR

IOM trains Libyan officials to treat African migrants humanely

In response to the many reports of the maltreatment of sub-Saharan migrants in Libyan detention centres, the International Organization for Migration, IOM, has begun training officials in five facilities on human rights.

These are “the first trainings inside detention centres since 2014”, the United Nations Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL) announced.

In the pilot project, IOM is targeting five centres (Abu Salim, Tariq al Sekka, Al Khums, Gharyan Alhamra and Triq Al Matar) in order to enhance the capacity of the staff and help improve the living conditions of the migrants.

The first two of the five trainings, inside Tripoli’s Tariq Al Sekka and Abu Salim detention centres, on 14 April and 18 April respectively, focused on the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants there.  It was delivered to 24 of those of Abu Salim’s management staff and 28 of Tariq Al Sekka’s personnel.

The trainings were conducted by the management of the centres, after having attended an intensive five-day course in Tunis in February 2017, with the assistance of IOM staff. “It is a great step to be able to restart the trainings inside detention centres in Libya,” explained Program Manager Maysa Khalil, as UNSMIL further reports.

Some of the topics that were discussed include identification of vulnerable cases, the needs of women and men, protection and prevention of diseases as well as  smuggling and human trafficking.

“It is important to build a good relationship with the migrants who are residing in the centres in order for them to feel safe,” said Mohamed Salem, one of the participants from Tariq Al Sekka following the training sessions. For him the training increased the understanding of the migrants’ needs and their vulnerabilities.

Challenges identified during the session involved communication difficulties due to language barriers and the struggle of handling health cases, such as providing ambulances for urgent cases, and of co-ordination with clinics for patients such as pregnant women, they also discussed how to deal with those with psychological and mental problems, the press release adds.

“The attendees were excited to participate and tried to give solutions and share suggestions to facilitate the stay of migrants inside the centres by, for example, having a space for children to have fun,” explained IOM’s Operations Assistant, Moad Ayad. She believes that the training will have an impact when it comes to the treatment of migrants in detention.

Protecting minors and women from other detainees

Other issues that were raised were the importance of separating minors and women from other detainees, as well as the right of all migrants to practice their religion freely.

“Even though IOM advocates for the release of detained migrants, these type of human rights trainings aim for long-term improvement of the living conditions of the migrants currently inside detention centres,” Khalil added.

The trainings are part of a wider IOM imitative which is focusing on building the capacity of detention centre authorities to ensure that migrants are treated in a way that upholds their dignity and fully respects their human rights. “The hope is to be able to provide as many detention centre personnel with this training as possible,” Khalil said.

This pilot is part of project, “Support and provide assistance to authorities and migrants in detention centres and contribute to addressing the migration flow through voluntary repatriation in Libya”, funded by the Government of the United Kingdom. Under the same project, four detention centres were rehabilitated to meet the basic needs of migrants, particularly when it relates to water and sanitation facilities.

© ANSA

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