The International Organization for Migration today raised concerns for Libyan civilians as well as detained migrants, as military convoys approached the capital Tripoli.
During clashes in August 2018, more than 14,000 civilians were displaced and over 2,000 migrants caught up in fighting.
“The safety of migrants in detention is especially concerning should there be an escalation in military action. The fate of all Libyan civilians and the safety of humanitarian workers also remains an overriding concern,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.
“Migrants, including men, women and children who are being held in often sub-human conditions amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation are particularly vulnerable,” he said, noting that “Libya is not a safe place to return migrants who have tried and failed to make their way to Europe.”
So far this year, 1,073 migrants, among them 77 children, have been returned to Libya after interception and rescue at sea and placed in arbitrary detention.
Earlier in Tripoli, UN Secretary General António Guterres made a “strong appeal” for a de-escalation and the end to deployments by military factions across the country. He also underscored that migrants in detention “are not only Libya’s responsibility, they are the responsibility of the whole international community.”
Mr. Guterres visited Ain Zara Detention Centre yesterday where there are currently over 600 detainees, speaking to men, women, and children who have been held there for months. The UN Chief said he was shocked by the level of suffering of migrants and “especially by the level of despair that I found”.