By SAMY MAGDY, SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) —
Libyan security forces raided and violently broke up a protest sit-in by migrants outside a shuttered U.N. community center in the capital of Tripoli, activists and migrants said Monday.
The troops came overnight, smashed up the protest site and arrested hundreds, said activist Tarik Lamloum. Those detained were sent to a detention center in the nearby town of Ain Zara. Others managed to flee from the raid, he said.
Lamloum, who works with the local Belaady Organization for Human Rights, said at least one migrant community leader was shot during the raid.
The migrants, including women and children, had camped outside the center in Tripoli since October, seeking protection following a massive crackdown on migrants, and demanding protection and better treatment at the hands of Libyan authorities.
Aiysha, a Sudanese migrant, was part of the sit-in protest along with her family since October. The mother of two said police beat and detained migrants. She was among those detained. „We were caught off guard,” she said, speaking by phone from the detention center in Ain Zara. She gave only her first name, fearing for her safety. “They burned the tents, burned everything.”
The Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee said more than 600 migrants were detained in the raid. […]
The Libyan government last month named Mohammed al-Khoja, a militia leader implicated in abuses against migrants, to head the Department for Combating Irregular Migration. The agency oversees the detention centers under the Interior Ministry.
Al-Khoja was the deputy head of DCIM and for years ran the Tarik al-Sikka detention center in Tripoli, which is notorious for abuses including beatings, hard labor and a massive ransom scheme. He also has close ties to other militia leaders and human traffickers in western Libya sanctioned by the U.N.
Libya is one of the biggest recipients of money from the European Union’s trust fund for Africa — much of it destined for migration purposes. The North African country has received almost half a billion euros from the fund since 2015. […]
Libya: Hundreds detained in renewed crackdown on migrants and refugees
Published 10. Jan 2022
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are alarmed by the detention of more than 600 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in front of the former Community Day Centre in Tripoli early this morning.
The centre used to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and asylum seekers before it was permanently closed in December.
Dax Roque, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Libya Country Director, said:
“We are alarmed by the detention of hundreds of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, including women and children, that were camped out in front of the former Community Day Centre in Tripoli. Witnesses have told us they were met with violence this morning and that makeshift tents were burnt down. This is the culmination of a disastrous situation that has deteriorated over the last few months. Since the mass detention of thousands of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in October of last year, the situation for this population in Libya has only got worse.”
Thomas Garofalo, the International Rescue Committee’s Country Director, said:
“Our medical teams have been supporting those injured during this morning’s arrests, including one person suffering from a gunshot wound. We understand that hundreds of people, including many women and children, have now been sent onwards to detention centres where conditions are often already dire. As we enter a new year, the events unfolding should act as yet another reminder that the current situation for migrants and refugees in Libya is untenable and requires a new approach that respects the rights of people on the move.“
The humanitarian agencies call on the Libyan authorities to immediately release those detained – particularly women, children, and refugees – and protect them from further violence. They also urge the international community to immediately expand resettlement and other safe and regular pathways for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants who wish to leave Libya.
For media requests:
Ahmed Bayram, Media Adviser for NRC, Amman, email@example.com, phone +962 7 9016 0147
Elias Abu Ata, Regional Senior Media and Communications Manager, IRC Middle East and North AfricaPhone: +962 77 9981 853 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org