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International community urged ‘to suspend all agreements with Libya’ as systematic abuse of refugees continues

UNHCR ‘deeply regrets’ closing community centre as refugees gather for fifth day demanding protection

WORLD governments were urged today to suspend all agreements with the Libyan government until it complies with international human rights and humanitarian laws.

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), a global network of over 200 human rights NGOs, and the Libyan Anti-torture Network issued the call this morning as the United Nation’s Human Rights Council gathered for the second day of its 48th session.

The OMCT began by welcoming Monday’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya report, which warned that “from the moment migrants enter Libya destined for Europe, they are systematically subjected to a litany of abuses.”

That report came just days after the authorities in the Libyan capital Tripoli began rounding up around 5,000 migrants and refugees and placed them insinde the country’s widely condemned detention centres.

The OMCT told the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that it was deeply concerned by the recent events in Libya.

“Early this month, one African migrant was killed during ‘anti-drugs’ raids, 15 others were wounded, while thousands of others were arrested,” the OMCT’s human rights officer and network coordinator Stella Anastasia said.

“Videos, photos and testimonies show that security forces used excessive force against them,” she said.

Echoing Monday’s report, Ms Anastasia said: “Violations against migrants and refugees continue unabated in Libyan detention centres, where thousands of them, including many registered with [United Nation’s Human Rights Council], women and children, are held in inhumane and degrading conditions and routinely subjected to torture, sexual violence and extortion.”

Ms Anastasia warned that the “EU-backed Libyan coastguard continues to forcibly return and intercept at sea migrants and refugees attempting to cross into Europe, in violation of international refugee, human rights, and maritime law.

“Migrants and refugees who are returned to Libya are subjected to serious abuses, torture, and degrading treatment in state facilities and elsewhere.

“We call on the international community to suspend all agreements with Libya pending their full compliance with international human rights and international humanitarian law, and to work together to address irregular migration across the Mediterranean.”

Meanwhile, in Tripoli, hundreds of people trapped in the country gathered outside a community day centre run by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) for the fifth day in a row demanding protection and evacuation.

The UNHCR closed the centre on Tuesday, citing “escalating tensions,” “violence” and “sabotage,” and advises asylum seekers to stay away.

Today, however, the organisation took to social media to say it “deeply regret” the decision, though the centre still appears to be closed.

The UNHCR’s post read: “People with urgent needs, who have been affected by the Libyan government’s security operation in Tripoli this week, were prevented by crowds from entering and getting help.

“Crowds of up to 1,000 people had gathered outside the [community day centre] today, calling for evacuation from Libya and resettlement. UNHCR received reports that unidentified people have been collecting names, claiming that they are compiling lists for evacuation or resettlement. A smaller crowd also tried to reach the UNHCR’s registration Office in Serraj but they have now dispersed.

“Humanitarian flights from Libya have been suspended for much of the year and blocked since 8 August upon the decision of the Libyan authorities.

“We urge the government to stop arrests and release detained asylum seekers, including those who are awaiting evacuation flights out of the country. We call on the authorities to allow the resumption of humanitarian flights so we can support the orderly departure of some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers from the country.

“We advise asylum seekers and refugees urgently needing assistance to use helplines and avoid approaching UNHCR offices in person for the time being for their own safety.”

Elsewhere, the Greek government announced earlier this week that it would begin training the Libyan Coastguard.

Greece‘s deputy foreign minister Kostas Fragogiannis met his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Khalil Issa on a trip to the country last weekend and announced the deal as part of a new memorandum of understanding involving business investments in Libyan.

Top image shows migrant/refugees lying on the ground after they were rounded up by the Libyan security officers in the Gargarish neighbourhood of Tripoli

Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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