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‘Critical worsening’ of conditions for migrants detained in Libya: UNHCR

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

The U.N. refugee agency said on Friday it was gravely concerned about a deterioration in conditions for migrants held in Libyan detention centers that had led to riots and hunger strikes.

Many migrants are taken to the centers after being intercepted by Libya’s EU-backed coastguard as they try to reach Europe by sea, a policy that has been criticized by human rights groups.

An estimated 8,000 migrants are currently held in 18 detention centers linked to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, according to UNHCR.

Those detained make up a small fraction of the several hundred thousand migrants resident in Libya or passing through the North African country.

Humanitarian workers have limited access to the centers, which frequently open and close.

“In recent weeks, UNHCR has witnessed a critical worsening in conditions in detention centers, due to the increasing overcrowding and lack of basic living standards,” the agency said in a statement.

“As a consequence, riots and hunger strikes by refugees inside detention centers are taking place, demanding a resolution to their bleak living conditions.

“This has led to a number of serious security incidents, where UNHCR frontline staff have been placed at physical risk.”

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