UN trying to improve 'terrible' migrant detention conditions in Libya

2017-09-14 14:14
iStock

iStock

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

San Jos - The UN agency for migration is trying to improve "terrible" conditions for migrants detained in Libya, and repatriate those willing and able to go home, its deputy head told AFP.

"I think there are somewhere around 31 or 32 detention centers, and around half are controlled by, or are in the areas controlled by, the government," Laura Thompson of the International Organisation for Migration said on Wednesday after a migration conference in Costa Rica.

"I don't think that anybody knows" how many people are being kept in the facilities, where "extremely bad" conditions reign, she said.

Not only was there a "lack of food, lack of adequate sanitary conditions, but in addition to that a mix of women, children, men" all thrown in together, she said.

Until recently, Libya had been a major launching off point for migrants, most of them from African countries, trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

But since July the number of attempted crossings has dropped off dramatically.

Libya's coastguard has received European Union funding and training to stop smugglers taking migrants to the water in flimsy boats.

But the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, last week accused the EU of "turning a blind eye" to the brutality suffered by migrants the coastguard directed into the detention centers.

Hundreds of thousands were being subjected to abuses including torture, slave labor and rape, he said.

'Vicious circle' 

Thompson said the IOM was trying to convince the unity government to provide alternatives to detention for women and children.

It was also encouraging the Libyan coastguard to follow international standards in order to prevent the "vicious circle of saving people and putting them in detention conditions that are terrible."

At the same time, it was sending willing migrants back to their home countries, with some 7 500 repatriated so far this year, she said.

Obstacles to the process included some migrants lacking identity papers and many African countries not having consular representation in Libya, she said.

Thompson noted that most of the migrants in Libya were there looking for jobs, drawn to its opportunities in its oil sector and once solid tourism industry.

But since the end of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's rule under Nato intervention six years ago, instability and conflict have persisted with the internationally recognized government competing with militias and rival administrations.

The IOM has been trying to stem migrant flows from some African countries to Libya.

In Niger, for instance, Thompson said the agency had been distributing information about the dire conditions awaiting those still bent on traveling to Libya.

Read more on:    un  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com 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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Africa
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

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 24.com network.

Settings

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.