Libya: Detained migrants in warzone attacked by soldiers

Soldiers loyal to Khalifa Haftar stormed the Qasr Bin Ghashir detention centre, 25 km south of Tripoli, on 23 April 2019. They attacked detainees, leaving at least 10 migrants with serious injuries, Al Jazeera reported.

According to other reports, the number of victims could be even higher. Mustafa el-Mecei, a spokesman for the military operation of the Libyan Government of National Accord, claimed that Haftar’s forces had killed six migrants and wounded 11.

There are around 728 migrants at the centre in Qasr Bin Ghashir, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Over 100 are women and almost 50 are children.

Detainees told Al Jazeera that Haftar’s solders searched for and confiscated mobile phones, before beating and shooting migrants.

“Right now they are attacking the centre…They are shooting us directly,” an Eritrean migrant told Al Jazeera. “We need medical treatment right now because the people with us, their injuries are really a lot,” he added.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been working to move the migrants out of detention centres in Tripoli. But, according to UN reports, around 3,600 migrants are still trapped on the front line.

In a statement, the UN said: “The situation in these detention centres is increasingly desperate, with reports of guards abandoning their posts and leaving people trapped inside.”

An Eritrean man at the Abu Selim detention centre said: “We don’t know where to go. We are almost without guards, (there are) only two, they will also leave us. The war is getting nearer.”

At least 264 people have been killed and a further 1,266 people have been wounded since 5 April, the UN reports. More than 32,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes.

Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya Chief of Mission, has stressed the urgency of the situation: “With thousands of people running for safety every day, and more than 3,000 detained migrants who remain at high risk, immediate action is needed to provide crucial support to vulnerable civilians in Tripoli.” 

TMP – 3/05/2019

Photo credit: Srdjan Randjelovic/Shutterstock

Photo caption: Barbed wire fence close up in the war zone to protect prisoners from escaping camp