Illegal Migrants’ Shelters in Libya between Miserable Conditions and Militias’ Control

The Libyan human rights organization “Ya Biladi” issued a statement, confirming that about 300 persons, including minors, are still waiting to be moved to a more humane and decent place. The statement stresses that these emigrants suffer from miserable conditions in Zaher Al-Jabal-Zintan detention center, which is under the control of militias.

Ya Biladi asserted that detainees suffer harsh conditions under the control of militias, where human rights organizations were not allowed to visit for a long period. Moreover, they have not received any necessary aid to protect them from diseases and cold winter.

Reports state that around 100 children are sleeping in the open without sanitary or drinking water. They have no eatable food, and they stay under the rain and bitter cold in mountain cities.

Militias Break into the Shelters

The shelters are dominated by militias that conduct raids in the place every now and then. The most prominent was on September 20, when they attacked the migrants.

Waste and rubbish pile inside the cells for several days is a serious health threat. Tensions between detainees are rising as a result of their anger and despair.

Irregular migrants in western Libya are subjected to torture, kidnapping, murder and enslavement by the militias that consider them a major source to finance their terrorist activities.

Thousands of migrants stay in detention centers run by the government of Fayez al-Siraj in Tripoli; living in extremely inhumane conditions and in the crossfire of the militias.

Detaining these migrants inside illegal detention centers in western Libya has turned into one of the most important lucrative businesses for armed militias and human trafficking networks.

The shelters, supervised by Tripoli authorities, are full with thousands of irregular migrants of African and Asian nationalities.

Local and international reports indicate that many of them are run by armed militias, and many crimes against migrants are committed including beating, financial blackmailing and sexual assault.

The militias of Fayez al-Sarraj government include a large number of internationally wanted terrorists who are specialized in human trafficking or oil smuggling.

The most prominent of whom are Ahmed al-Dabashi, known as Ammo, Mohammed Salem Bahron, known as al-Far, and Abdul Rahman Milad, known as al-Baidja”, as well as the terrorist Salah Badi. All of them are leaders of militias, directly affiliated with the government of al-Siraj.

Human Disaster

The condition of migrants in the shelters is now worsening in the light of Covid-19 outbreak. Although UNHCR has pledged to provide them with generators, ambulances, containers and medical clinics in tents, fears are mounting that these shelters are overcrowded with migrants amid lack of necessary health-care.

This situation led the UN to warn against a human disaster in Libya if the virus is not contained.

“The humanitarian crisis in Libya is worsening with the escalating conflict and the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, which brings new threats,” the UNHCR’s Libya office said in a statement. The statement added that if the danger resulting from Covid-19 is not contained, a human disaster in Libya will be looming.

According to the statement, Libyan displaced people, migrants and asylum-seekers have no adequate shelter and live in crowded places with difficult access to sanitation and lack of basic needs. Many activists rely on awareness-raising campaigns for citizens as well as in migrants’ centers to reduce the risk of infection.

Despite the poor conditions that the emigrants suffer in Libya, operations of smuggling migrants has not stopped around the country and are supported by human trafficking companies and mafias.

Dozens of migrants have recently been rescued and sheltered. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), these illegal migrants are from Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Over the past years, Libya has become a transit area for thousands of African migrants fleeing crises and wars in their country, and their destination is essentially the old continent.

Recruiting Migrants Forcibly

Recently, there were many local and international warnings to end the tragedy of thousands of irregular migrants held at Libya’s shelters. Reports point out that at these centers horrible abuses are practiced including physical torture and lack of food.

This comes as human rights activists have welcomed the call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Libyan authorities to close the migration detention centers; yet, the government asked the UN for alternative amid influx of migrants.

These shelters include thousands of migrants who live in very poor conditions. They are not livable shelters, as many of them were old-built factories or schools and warehouses, therefore, detaining migrants there is morally and humanely unacceptable.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has already said that 46823 refugees and registered asylum-seekers, including some 45 men, 22 women and 33 children have registered their names there.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for his part, condemned the severe violations against thousands of migrants detained in the shelters; calling the authorities to close them and speaking about the horrible conditions and bad treatment of migrants, where many cases of torture, forcibly disappearance, and sexual abuse, were reported.

According to Guterich, men and boys are routinely threatened with violence as they call their families to send ransoms. Migrants and refugees were shot when they tried to escape, casualties reported.

The detention centers contain weapons and ammunition stores, where part of refugees and migrants is forcibly recruited, while others are forced to repair weapons

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