Various UN agencies have denounced violence against migrants in Libya after security forces shot dead at least half a dozen asylum seekers in recent days.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said six people were killed and at least 24 injured at an overcrowded detention facility in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Libyan authorities have thus far denied that the shooting had taken place despite mass arrests targeting migrants in recent days.
The killings came a week after sweeping raids in Tripoli targeting irregular migrants, during which at least one person died and 15 were wounded, while thousands were detained, according to the UN.
Doctors without Borders (MSF) said that at least 5,000 migrants and refugees were swept up in the “violent mass arrests.”
UNHCR ‘extremely worried’
The operation, which authorities said targeted organised crime and drug trafficking, left at least one person dead and 15 wounded, according to the UN Support Mission in Libya.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) meanwhile said that it was “extremely worried about the continued suffering of migrants and asylum-seekers in Libya.”
UNHCR spokeswoman Marta Hurtado said that many migrants were experiencing “a myriad of daily violations and abuses at the hands of both state and non-state actors.”
“This series of horrific events over a period of eight days is just the latest example of the precarious, sometimes lethal, situation facing migrants and asylum-seekers in Libya,” she said, adding that Libyan authorities had an obligation to protect everyone on their territory, including migrants and refugees.
Federico Soda, the IOM Chief of Mission in Libya, called on Libyan authorities to stop the suffering of migrants.
UNICEF concerned about child wellbeing
The UN children’s agency (UNICEF) said that at least 1,000 women and children in detention centres in the Libyan capital were “at immediate risk” in this context.
“Migrant and refugee children in Libya continue to face grave child rights violations including arbitrary detention,” acting UNICEF special representative to Libya, Cristina Brugiolo, said in a statement. “Children are held under devastating and inhumane conditions in these detention centres,” she said.
“Around 751 women and 255 children were among the thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers caught up in recent mass arrests” in Tripoli this month, UNICEF said in a statement. There were “five unaccompanied children and at least 30 infants” among those detained, according to reports.
Squalid conditions at detention centers
Following the raids, the IOM said last week that guards had shot dead six migrants at the Al-Mabani detention facility in the Libyan capital, while at least 24 were wounded. Libyan officials said some 2,000 migrants escaped in the chaos.
UNICEF said the Al-Mabani detention centre, which it identified as Libya’s largest, “is holding more than 5,000 people, […] including 100 children and 300 women.”
Hundreds of migrants and refugees, accompanied by young children, have meanwhile been holding a sit-in in front of the office of the UNHCR near Tripoli for several days, demanding help.
© InfoMigrants/With AFP