Eritrean families – many of whom have lived quiet lives in Libya for years hoping to finally reach Europe – have been rounded up in a huge “anti-drugs” raid.
A statement from Dax Roque, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Libya Country Director, highlighted their plight.
“We are alarmed by reports of mass arrests of migrants in Tripoli this morning. We are hearing that more than 500 migrants, including women and children, have been rounded up, arbitrarily detained and are at risk of abuse and ill-treatment.
Migrants and refugees in Libya, particularly those without legal residency in the country, are often at risk of arbitrary detention. Torture, sexual violence, and extortion is rampant in Libyan detention centres. We believe this latest wave of arrests is part of wider crackdown by the Libyan authorities on migrants and refugees in Libya and the environment is becoming increasingly more restrictive.
We call on the Libyan authorities to immediately release those detained and to end the crackdown on migrants and refugees taking place across the country. Countries with ties to Libya, particularly European states must also scale up pathways for resettlement of refugees in Libya.”
As many as 4,000 are reported under arrest
RFI (Radio France International) carried this report.
In Libya, a vast anti-drug operation was carried out on Friday October 1 in Tripoli. Libyan police arrested large numbers of migrants on the outskirts of the capital. In a statement, the Attorney General explains that these people are suspected of being involved in trafficking “drugs, alcohol and firearms.” The NGO Norwegian Refugee Council denounces an operation which aims above all to arrest migrants and refugees.
” This is among the largest arrests of migrants that we have seen in Libya in recent years, ” reports Dax Roque, director of the Norwegian refugee council in Libya, reached by phone by Gaëlle Laleix , of the Africa editorial staff: nearly 4,000 migrants have been arrested for the past two days in Libya.
“ Among those arrested, there are already registered refugees. We also know that there are women, some of whom are pregnant, and children. Images circulated on social media of dozens of people, hands tied, being taken away. This is not the first time that Libya has arrested a significant number of migrants. Throughout the year, refugees are held in detention centers. And it should be noted that their conditions of confinement are deplorable: the centers are overcrowded and unsanitary.
We therefore call on the Libyan authorities to release the detained migrants. And we also call on countries, especially European countries which have close relations with Libya, to raise their voice on this issue because we all know that the situation of refugees in Libya has been worrying for too long. “
► At the ire as : “I want to leave” in Libya, the cruel treatment of migrants
Since the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country has become a preferred route for tens of thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe. Libya has also become a living hell for the candidates for exile. Testimonies of torture, forced labor, beatings, and rape in official detention centers are plentiful. Last June, the NGO Médecins sans frontières thus decided to leave the migrant detention centers of al-Mabani and Abu Salim, in Tripoli, denouncing an “unbearable” situation.