ABOARD GEO BARENTS – At least six people have been shot dead by guards at a Libya detention center for migrants amid chaos at an overcrowded facility, UN officials said on Saturday as they attempted to fight migrants in the North African country. Again condemning the widespread abuse against
The development comes a week after authorities massacred more than 5,000 migrants and UN-commissioned investigators said abuse and mistreatment of migrants in Libya is a crime against humanity.
According to the International Migration Organization, the shooting took place on Friday at the Mabani detention center west of the capital Tripoli, where authorities brought in 4,187 new detainees, including 511 women and 60 children, earlier this month.
A spokesman for the Libyan Interior Ministry, which oversees migrant detention centres, did not respond to requests for comment.
The IOM said the guards started shooting after a riot and an attempt by the migrants to flee.
But Vincent Kochtel, the UN refugee agency’s special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said the devastation in Libya’s overcrowded detention centers was caused by “human rights violations and inhumane conditions”, including “indiscriminate shootings”.
Cochetel urged the European Union and the United Nations to impose sanctions on those implicated in abuses against migrants, especially following the findings of UN-commissioned investigators.
“Some individuals bear special responsibility for human rights abuses either because they are directly involved in them or because they cover them under their authority. It is up to the United Nations and the EU Sanctions Committee to take action and some It’s time to enlist the individuals.” told the Associated Press.
EU Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said the commission members “condemn the incident and look forward to a full investigation.” He declined to comment further, pending further clarification on what had happened.
The head of the IOM’s mission in Libya, Federico Soda, said at least six migrants were killed by guards, and at least 15 others were wounded and taken to hospitals.
“Excessive use of force and violence often results in deaths in Libyan detention centers,” Soda said. “Some of our staff who witnessed this incident describe injured migrants lying on the ground covered in blood. We are devastated by this tragic loss of life.”
Footage was circulated online, showing hundreds of migrants fleeing the detention center through a gap in the facility’s fence. Some were seen helping fellow migrants who were hurt. Another video showed a large number of migrants running through the streets in Tripoli.
Among the fleeing migrants was Gabriel Akulong, 24, from Cameroon. They were detained in action in the western city of Gargaresh, a major center for migrants in Libya, and imprisoned in Mabani.
“They put us in overcrowded cells, where we couldn’t even breathe. There was no food, no water, no oxygen,” he said.
While fleeing, some of the migrants fell and were caught by Libyan guards who beat them up. He said some migrants trying to escape were shot.
“I still ask myself why we were detained and imprisoned,” he told the AP in a phone interview from Tripoli where he was hiding.
Earlier this week, several migrants attempted to flee the Mabani centre, but they were met “with extreme violence”, said the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, which was granted a rare visit to the centre.
The group, also known by its French acronym MSF, said that its visiting team “heard two rounds of heavy gunfire from very close range and witnessed the indiscriminate beating of a group of men, who were later driven into vehicles”. taken away and driven to an unknown destination.”
According to the IOM, more than 5,000 migrants were arrested earlier this month, including 215 children and more than 540 women, of whom at least 30 were pregnant. The crackdown, in which one migrant was killed and 15 injured, began in Gargaresh on 1 October and spread to the surrounding areas.
Libyan officials described the action as a security operation against illegal migration and drug trafficking. But he made no mention of any smuggler or smuggler being arrested.
Hours before Friday’s chaos in Mabani, the UN refugee agency said authorities demolished several buildings and temporary homes for migrants during the crackdown.
“The raids… have caused widespread panic and fear among asylum seekers and refugees in the capital,” the UNHCR said. Several migrants, including single children and young mothers, have protested at the agency’s community day center in Tripoli, demanding their evacuation from Libya.
The UNHCR said it temporarily suspended its activities at the center after two of its workers were injured.
Libya has been engulfed in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 and the death of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. Since then the county has emerged as a migrant center for those fleeing poverty and civil war in Africa and the Middle East and hoping for a better life in Europe. .
Thousands of migrants have been detained in the Mediterranean Sea and returned to Libya’s detention centers, which have been riddled with widespread abuse, torture and sexual violence. The IOM says around 10,000 migrants, including women and children, are being kept in “critical conditions” at the centres.
UN commission of investigators said violations against migrants at sea, in detention centers and at the hands of smugglers are crimes against humanity.
Associated Press journalist Renata Brito in Paris contributed to this report.