Libya: Captive migrants plead for their lives

Image Source: IOM

TMP – 25/06/2017

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has expressed deep concern after the circulation of a video from inside a militia detention center in Libya that shows appalling abuse of African migrants.

The video, posted on Facebook, shows about 260 Ethiopian and Somali migrants held in detention, including many children, many with visible signs of starvation and abuse.

According to a Somali journalist who compiled the video content, the migrants are frequently beaten and tortured. Many have not been given any food for days. Women, who are often placed in different cells to men, said they were afraid of being sexually assaulted.

Parents and relatives of the victims have also received video clips where they are asked to pay between USD 8,000–10,000 in ransom to avoid their child or family member being killed. According to the families of the victims some of the migrants have been missing for up to six years.

“I have been here one year. I am beaten every day. I swear I do not eat food. My body is bruised from beating,” Abdinajib Mohamed, one of the captives said in the video. “If you have seen the life here you wouldn’t stay [in] this world any more. I didn’t eat the last four days but the biggest problem is beating here. They don’t want to release me.”

In response to the video, Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies said: “Seeing a Facebook video of innocent migrants and refugees who have been abused and tortured is deeply concerning. IOM condemns the way that criminal gangs use social media in their shocking abuse of people held against their will and to extort money from their families back home.”

Amin Awad, Director for the Middle East and North Africa of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees noted: “The cruelty of the human traffickers preying on vulnerable refugees and migrants in Libya does not seem to have a limit. UNHCR is concerned about the plight of these asylum seekers and calls for their immediate release in collaboration with the Libyan authorities.”

IOM and partner organisations are working with government authorities to secure the release of the migrants and is providing critical support to them, including medical and psycho-social support, as well as assistance to return home if they want to.