Cruelty driving Libya migrant crossings – Amnesty

2015-05-11 06:17
Migrants receive relief after disembarking in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. (Alessandro Fucarini, AP)

Migrants receive relief after disembarking in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. (Alessandro Fucarini, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - Migrants in Libya face "cruelty" and abuse, driving many people to risk their lives in dangerous Mediterranean crossings aimed at reaching sanctuary in Europe, Amnesty International said on Monday.

For years Libya has been a stepping stone for Africans seeking a better life in Europe. Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict at home are also making their way to Libya to try to reach the West.

"The ghastly conditions for migrants, coupled with spiralling lawlessness and armed conflicts raging within the country, make clear just how dangerous life in Libya is today," said Amnesty's Philip Luther.

The situation has worsened since the Nato-backed 2011 uprising that toppled veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with powerful militias battling for Libya's oil wealth and two governments vying for power.

Feeding on the chaos, people smugglers have stepped up their lucrative trade. The flow of migrants also rises when sea conditions improve in warmer months.


"With no legal avenues to escape and seek safety they are forced to place their lives in the hands of smugglers who callously extort, abuse and attack them," Luther said.

Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director urged the European Union to deploy more rescue vessels in the Mediterranean while tackling smugglers at the same time.

"Introducing measures to tackle smugglers without providing safe alternative routes out for the people desperate to flee conflict in Libya, will not resolve the plight of migrants and refugees," he said.

The rights group also called on Tunisia and Egypt to ease border restrictions with Libya, in order to provide migrants - who would otherwise embark on a dangerous sea journey to Europe - haven.

The Amnesty report, "Libya is full of cruelty", details testimonies of abuse, sexual violence, exploitation or religious prosecution.

Beaten, abducted

Charles, a Christian from Nigeria, told Amnesty he was beaten and abducted by armed gangs in Libya several times.

Others have spoken of abuse at the hands of smugglers, who they say treat them like "animals".

Women migrants complained of sexual abuse, with one saying she was "gang-raped" by 11 men after her husband was tied to a pole and forced to watch.

Amnesty quoted Syrian refugees as saying smugglers moved them to boats in poorly ventilated refrigerator trucks.

It also criticised Libya's policy of locking up illegal migrants in detention centres where conditions are dire.

Libyan officials, who have complained of a lack of means, have said that 7 000 illegal migrants are being held in 16 detention centres across the country awaiting deportation.

Read more on:    libya  |  immigrants  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.