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Protest in solidarity with Refugees in Libya

MADDIE WAKELING and CRISSIE AMISS report on gathering outside the UNHCR’s office in London last week

ON TUESDAY, January 10, a lively group of people gathered outside the London offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as part of a Europe-wide action called by Refugees in Libya.

Protestors gathered simultaneously outside UNHCR in Berlin, Brussels, Rome and Tripoli to commemorate one year since the brutal dispersal of people of a protest camp in front of the Tripoli Offices.

During this dispersal, 600 people – including children and pregnant women – were arrested and detained in Ain Zara Detention Camp, where 250 still remain imprisoned one year on. 

The atrocities in Libyan detention centres are well documented; they are sites of rape, torture and abuse and they are funded by the EU.

When people try to flee the country by boat, many are pushed back or intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coastguard, who work in collaboration with Frontex, the European Border and Coastguard Agency, and the Italian authorities. 

Refugees in Libya describe how they “started this movement under the name ‘Refugees in Libya’ because we believe that whoever leaves home is a refugee, regardless of the reasons.”

Episode 37: Free The El Hiblu 3 – Teenagers accused of terrorism for translating The Civil Fleet Podcast

In today's episode we speak with Jelka and Amara. Amara was one of 108 people who were rescued by an oil tanker, called the El Hiblu 1, in March 2019 after escaping Libya. The European authorities ordered the El Hiblu 1's crew to wait for the Libyan coastguards to come and take the rescued back to the war-torn country.  But, the rescued convinced the crew to sail north instead. Amara, along with fellow teenagers Abdalla and Kadar, acted as translators between the refugees and the crew. The Maltese special forces eventually raided the ship, in full tactical gear, when it got close to the island nation.  Amara, Abdalla and Kadar were arrested and accused of terrorism, piracy and worse for what is essentially an extraordinary act of humanitarianism.  They have been stuck in a bureaucratic legal nightmare for four years while the Maltese prosecutors try to figure out what crime to charge them with.  We're going to hear from Amara briefly about halfway through today's episode. With the pretrial in Malta still ongoing, he is unable to tell us too much about what happened.  And so, we'll mainly be speaking with Jalka from the Free the El Hiblu 3 campaign.  She's going to tell us more about what happened to Amara, Abdalla and Kader and the campaign to free them. —Get in touch— Twitter: @FleetCivil Mastodon: Support: —Show Notes— For more on the El Hiblu 3 and the Free the El Hiblu 3 campaign, see here: Follow Free the El Hiblu 3 on Twitter on: @ElHiblu3, and on Instagram here: If you'd like to read the El Hiblu 3 e-book, then go here: You can read more about Amara's story here: Read Kader's here: And Abdalla's here: Ben mentions an exclusive story he worked on about the rising numbers of deaths at UK Home Office asylum-seeker accommodation. You can read that here:  Ben and Jelka mention EUNAVFOR MED, which stands for European Union Naval Force Mediterranean. You can read more about that here:, here:, and here: Ben and Jelka briefly mention the campaign group Refugees In Libya and one of its organisers David Yambio. He appears on episode 29 of The Civil Fleet podcast.  Here's a link to the Times of Malta documentary on the El Hiblu 3 with English subtitles: Ben briefly mentions Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. You can find more about them here:
  1. Episode 37: Free The El Hiblu 3 – Teenagers accused of terrorism for translating
  2. Episode 36: Defending the Iuventa 4 refugee rescuers
  3. Episode 35: Sentenced to 142-years for doing ‘what any human would do’
  4. Episode 34: Europe's ‘black sites’ & secret asylum-seeker pushbacks on commercial ships
  5. Episode 33: Preventing pushbacks at the Lithuania-Belarus border

The London protest amplified their demands including evacuation to lands of safety, an end to the EU funding of Libyan coastguards which “forcibly intercepted refugees fleeing the Libyan hell,” the closure of all detention centres across Libya and justice for those who were shot and killed “both in and out of detention centres.”

An audio message from a Sudanese woman from Refugees in Libya described how it took four years for her to be evacuated to a place of safety.

Women from the All African Women’s Group, who have suffered detention and border violence, described the experience they share with people in Libya of fleeing “civil wars, persecutions, climate changes, and poverty back in our countries of origin” and being denied protection and safety.

Two staff members from UNHCR’s “protection” team came out to speak to protestors, but had nothing to say to answer the charge that the UNHCR, with its global budget of billions of dollars, had turned away people, including mothers with children, without even providing food and water.

Maddie Wakeling is an Alarm Phone activist. Crissie Amiss is an activist with Global Women Against Deportations.

[Pic: Audio Visual Collective, Crossroads Women’s Centre]


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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