The Address | Benghazi – Libya
TRIPOLI – Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday that Italy is endangering migrants by renewing support for the Tripoli-based Libyan coast guard, which blocks their flight and sends them back to squalid detention centers in Libya.
Italy recently extended its contentious deal supporting the Libyan coast guard, drawing sharp criticism from humanitarian groups.
The New York-based watchdog urged Italy to suspend all funding, coordination and training for the coast guard until Libya commits to shutting down militia-run detention centers in the country. About 5,000 migrants are languishing in dozens of filthy Libyan centers, where rape, torture and other abuses run rampant.
“Italy can’t paper over its complicity in the suffering of migrants and refugees who fall into the hands of the Libyan Coast Guard,” said Judith Sunderland, associate director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch.
The U.N. refugee agency reports that the coast guard has picked up and returned roughly 40,000 migrants to war-ravaged Libya since the agreement was reached three years ago.