The Address | Benghazi – Libya
GENEVA – The United Nations attacked on Friday horrific conditions in migrant detention centers in Libya, with dozens dying from tuberculosis and hundreds scraping by on starvation rations while many others appear to have disappeared.
“We are deeply concerned about the ghastly conditions in which migrants and refugees are being held in detention in Libya,” UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva.
Colville said that the UN rights office recently visited the Zintan detention centre, where 654 refugees and migrants were being held.
He warned that the conditions there “amount to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and may also amount to torture.”
“We found them severely malnourished, lacking water, locked in overcrowded warehouses reeking with the smell of rubbish and waste from overflowing latrines,” he said.
Colville also pointed out that since the end of April, the Libyan Coast Guard said it had delivered hundreds of people to a facility in Al-Khoms, which is under the oversight of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) through its Department for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM).
This includes 203 people delivered on May 23 alone.
However, he said, the Al-Khoms facility now reports that it currently only holds 30 migrants.
“This is particularly worrying given reports that migrants are being sold for forced labor or to smugglers promising transit to Europe,” Colville said, also lamenting “reports that some women have been sold for sexual exploitation.”
Colville called upon GNA to “immediately launch an independent investigation to locate these missing people.”
“The Libyan Coast Guard and the DCIM must ensure that they are accountable for every person in detention, and that their human rights are respected,” he said.
According to UN figures, some 3,400 migrants and refugees remain detained in Tripoli, which has seen a surge in fighting since early April.