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 39: A hostile environment for refugees – The Civil Fleet Podcast
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- Episode 37: Free The El Hiblu 3 – Teenagers accused of terrorism for translating
- Episode 36: Defending the Iuventa 4 refugee rescuers
- Episode 35: Sentenced to 142-years for doing ‘what any human would do’
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]