UN calls for halt to Libya migrant detention, expulsion

On Monday, the UN urged Libya to treat refugees and migrants with dignity, expressing concerns about their treatment, which included arbitrary arrest and mass expulsion.

War-torn Libya is frequently criticized for its treatment of migrants; rights organizations claim that smuggling gangs and state-run detention facilities subject refugees to abhorrent abuse.

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“Libyan authorities have arrested thousands of men, women and children from the streets and their homes or following raids on alleged traffickers’ camps and warehouses,” the UN’s Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement.

Many, including “pregnant women and children”, are held in “overcrowded and unsanitary” conditions, UNSMIL said.

“Thousands of others, including migrants who have entered Libya legally, have been collectively expelled without screening or due process,” it said, calling on Libyan authorities “to halt these actions and treat migrants with dignity and humanity”.

According to UNSMIL, authorities must provide UN agencies and assistance organizations “unrestricted access to detainees in need of urgent protection.”

An important starting point for migrants, who frequently flee sub-Saharan Africa’s turmoil and poverty, is Libya. They are trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach the Italian coast, which is only 290 kilometers (180 miles) away.

The passage is the most dangerous migratory sea crossing in the world.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that there are more than 600,000 migrants living in Libya. Most people enter the nation illegally by traveling through vast deserts to the porous southern border.

After Moamer Kadhafi was overthrown and killed in a NATO-backed rebellion in 2011, Libya was thrown into years of anarchy, making it a haven for human traffickers who have been accused of crimes like extortion and enslavement.

Currently, Libya is ruled by two opposing political regimes, one headquartered in the country’s east and the other in the western capital of Tripoli.

Rival administration forces routinely conduct raids in migrant-populated neighborhoods.

Even in international waters, the Libyan navy frequently intercepts boats off its coast transporting migrants, returning those on board forcibly and detaining them.

More than 7,000 migrants have been detained at sea and sent back to Libya since the start of 2023, according to the IOM.

According to the organization, 368 individuals remain missing and more than 600 people have drowned while attempting to escape into Europe.

According to the UN organization for refugees, more than 50,000 migrants had arrived on the Italian shore during the same time period, including more than 22,000 from Libya.

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Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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