The EU coverage of serving to Libyan authorities intercept folks making an attempt to cross the Mediterranean and return them to prisons is “inhuman”, the UN has mentioned.
“The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” mentioned the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’advert al-Hussein, in an announcement 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 lengthy been a serious transit hub for folks making an attempt to succeed in Europe. Many have fallen prey to severe abuse within the nation by the hands of traffickers and others.
Hussein mentioned “the detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond repair”.
“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,” he mentioned.
According to Libya’s division of combating unlawful migration (DCIM), 19,900 folks have been being held in amenities below its management in early November, up from about 7,000 in mid-September.
The improve got here after authorities detained hundreds of individuals beforehand held by smugglers in Libya’s trafficking hub Sabratha, west of Tripoli.
Hussein mentioned UN employees members had visited 4 DCIM amenities earlier this month and have been shocked by what they noticed. “[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 mentioned.
People together with youngsters described horrific beatings by guards at detention centres, whereas many ladies mentioned they confronted rape and different sexual violence by the hands of smugglers and guards.
One lady instructed UN employees she was gang-raped by three males, together with a DCIM guard, whereas one other lady mentioned 4 armed males had gang-raped her throughout her journey, when she was pregnant.
“I bled profusely, and I think I lost the baby. I haven’t seen a doctor yet,” she mentioned.
The UN urged Libyan authorities to take concrete steps to halt violations and abuses within the detention centres, and cease 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 mentioned, including that as an alternative, there gave the impression to be a “fast deterioration in their situation in Libya”.
Zeid’s feedback got here after ministers from 13 European and African nations pledged on Monday to behave to ease the disaster across the Mediterranean, particularly to assist enhance situations for folks held in Libya.
At a gathering in Bern of the contact group on the disaster alongside the central Mediterranean migration route, ministers reiterated a pledge to strengthen Libya’s coastguard.
Italy, with the assist of the EU, has for the reason that summer season been coaching the Libyan coastguard to intercept boats as a part of a controversial deal that has resulted in arrivals to Italy falling by practically 70% since July.
Reacting to Hussein’s costs, an EU spokesperson mentioned Brussels was funding UN companies on the bottom in Libya that have been working to guard folks.
“We believe that the detention centres in Libya must be closed. The situation in these camps is unacceptable,” the spokesperson mentioned in an announcement.
The EU wished rescued folks to be delivered to “reception centres that meet international humanitarian standards”, they mentioned, whereas on the identical time bettering the Libyan coastguard’s capability to stop deaths at sea.
But the UN human rights workplace criticised European nations for ignoring warnings that the cope with Libya may condemn extra folks to detention, exposing them to torture, rape, compelled 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 mentioned.