EU turning blind eye to horrors endured by migrants in Libya, UN says

The Guardian 10 months ago

The EU policy of helping Libyan authorities to intercept people trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to prisons is “inhuman”, the UN has said.

“The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “The European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan coastguard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean [is] inhuman.”

Chaos-ridden Libya has long been a major transit hub for people trying to reach Europe. Many have fallen prey to serious abuse in the country at the hands of traffickers and others.

Hussein warned that “the detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond repair”, adding: “The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention.”

According to Libya’s Department of Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), 19,900 people were being held in facilities under its control in early November, up from about 7,000 in mid-September.

The increase came after authorities detained thousands of people previously held by smugglers in Libya’s trafficking hub Sabratha, west of Tripoli.

Hussein said UN staff members had visited four DCIM facilities earlier this month and were “shocked” by what they saw. There were “thousands of emaciated and traumatised men, women and children piled on top of each other, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities, and stripped of their human dignity,” he said.

People including children described horrific beatings by guards at detention centres, while many women said they faced rape and other sexual violence at the hands of smugglers and guards.

One woman told UN staff she was gang-raped by three men, including a DCIM guard, while another woman said four armed men had gang-raped her during her journey, when she was pregnant.

“I bled profusely, and I think I lost the baby. I haven’t seen a doctor yet,” she said.

The UN urged Libyan authorities to take concrete steps to halt violations and abuses in the detention centres, and to stop detaining migrants.

“The increasing interventions of the EU and its member states have done nothing so far to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants,” Hussein said, adding that instead there appeared to be a “fast deterioration in their situation in Libya”.

Zeid’s comments came after ministers from 13 European and African countries pledged on Monday to act to ease the crisis around the Mediterranean, especially to help improve conditions for people held in Libya.

At a meeting in Bern, Switzerland, of the contact group on the crisis along the central Mediterranean migration route, the ministers also reiterated a pledge to strengthen Libya’s coastguard.

Italy, with the support of the EU, has since the summer been training the Libyan coastguard to intercept boats, as part of a controversial deal that has resulted in migrant arrivals to Italy falling by nearly 70% since July.

Reacting to Hussein’s charges, an EU spokesperson said Brussels was funding UN agencies on the ground in Libya that were working to protect people.

“We believe that the detention centres in Libya must be closed. The situation in these camps is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said in a statement sent to the news agency AFP.

The EU wanted rescued people to be brought to “reception centres that meet international humanitarian standards”, the spokesman said, while at the same time improving the Libyan coastguard’s capacity to prevent deaths at sea.

But the UN human rights office criticised European countries for ignoring warnings that the deal with Libya could condemn more people to detention, exposing them to torture, rape, forced labour and extortion.

“We cannot be a silent witness to modern day slavery, rape and other sexual violence, and unlawful killings, in the name of managing migration and preventing desperate and traumatised people from reaching Europe’s shores,” Hussein said.

Tags: migration
Source link
Read also:
The Sun 10 months ago
A WIFE acted as getaway driver for her armed robber husband as he held up a bookies for £3,375. Clare Hall, 27, waited near the Betfred store as...
Forbes Auto 10 months ago
Customer satisfaction with rental car companies is up, but earnings and stock price are another story.
Bloomberg Finance 10 months ago
Deutsche Telekom AG has a new way to sell wireless contracts -- by turning your clunker into a smart car.Europe’s largest phone carrier is offering...
BBC News 10 months ago
The UN's human rights chief accused European countries of ignoring warnings over the deal struck with Libya. Authorities say it has caused detainees...
The Hill 10 months ago
Former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that the August white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a "turning point" for America...
Fox News 10 months ago
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Slovak police say they have detained 78 migrants from Iraq, Iran and Syria traveling through Slovakia to Germany in two...
RT 10 months ago
Hundreds of corpses of slain Islamic State militants have been kept in refrigerated containers in an improvised morgue in Misrata, Libya since...
Fox News Incident 10 months ago
MEXICO CITY – Mexican immigration officials say an armed gang killed two Central American migrants and wounded at least one in the Gulf coast state...
One click to connect
Select a social network to associate your account