Eritrean boy Adhano, 16, sits in a cell at the Zawya detention center in Tripoli. About 500,000 migrants are in Libya waiting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, UN envoy Martin Kobler said last year / Photo: U.S. Fund for UNICEF/Alessio Romenzi

Libyan trafficking camps are hell for African refugees, say German diplomats

The Libyan camps where traffickers hold would-be migrants resemble concentration camps, German diplomats say. Their report comes as the EU considers a migration deal with the North African country.

Would-be migrants and refugees in Libya are being subjected to torture, rape and even execution by the human traffickers who are holding them, a newspaper report said on Sunday (30 January), citing German diplomats posted to Africa.

“Executions of migrants who cannot pay, torture, rapes, blackmail and abandonment in the desert are the order of the day there,” the “Welt am Sonntag” quoted an internal report from the German embassy in the capital of Niger, Niamey, as saying.

The diplomats’ report, intended for the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and various ministries, spoke of “the most serious, systematic human rights violations,” the paper said.

The report said that the “concentration-camp-like” conditions in the “private prisons” were documented by credible photos and videos shot with cell phones.

“Eyewitnesses spoke of exactly five executions by shooting every week in one prison – announced in advance and [carried out] on Fridays to make room for new arrivals: in other words, to increase the human ‘throughput’ and thus the profit of the operators,” the “Welt am Sonntag” said.

Refugees being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. Many migrants out of sheer desperation attempt crossing the Mediterranean in overfilled, rickety boats. More than 5,000 are thought to have drowned in the sea in 2016, a record figure described as “a devastating milestone” by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) / © UNHCR

‘Catastrophic and inhumane’

The head of the parliamentary party of the Greens in the European Parliament, Ska Keller, told the paper that the European Union should not strike any deal with the Libyan government with regard to its taking back refugees and migrants.

She said that people would be “sent back to a catastrophic and inhumane situation,” and that the German government should oppose any new deal with Libya “with all its might.”

On Friday, EU heads of state and government met in Malta to discuss how to reduce the flow of refugees to Europe from Libya and other North African states. A deal with Libya similar to the one with Turkey has been mooted.

Chancellor Merkel said in her regular podcast on Saturday, however, that a deal with Libya could only be considered “when the political situation in Libya has improved.”

More than 180,000 people came over the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy last year, with almost 90 percent setting out from Libya. Many are fleeing conflict or poverty in their native countries.

tj/rc (KNA, dpa)

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