UN report sheds light on ‘unimaginable horrors’ faced by migrants and refugees in Libya, and beyond

UNICEF/UN052822/Romenzi A migrant sits in a patch of light entering through one of only two windows as he tries to warm himself up at a detention centre, located in Libya, 1 February 2017. At the time of UNICEF’s visit, 160 men were being detained there.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Migrants and refugees are being subjected to “unimaginable horrors” from the moment they enter Libya, throughout their stay in the country and – if they make it that far – during their attempts to cross the Mediterranean, according to a report released on Thursday, by the United Nations political mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

“There is a local and international failure to handle this hidden human calamity that continues to take place in Libya,” said Ghassan Salamé, who heads UNSMIL.

From unlawful killings, arbitrary detention and torture, to gang rape, slavery, and human trafficking, the report covers a 20-month period up to August 2018, and details a terrible litany of violations and abuses committed by a range of State officials, armed groups, smugglers and traffickers against migrants and refugees.

The findings are based on 1,300 first-hand accounts gathered by UN human rights staff in Libya itself, as well from migrants who have returned to Nigeria, or managed to reach Italy, tracing the entire journey of migrants and refugees from Libya’s southern border, across the desert to the northern coast.

The climate of lawlessness in Libya provides fertile ground for illicit activities, leaving migrants and refugees “at the mercy of countless predators who view them as commodities to be exploited and extorted,” the report says, noting that “the overwhelming majority of women and older teenage girls” report having been “gang raped by smugglers or traffickers.”

Many people are sold from one criminal group to another and held in unofficial and illegal centres run directly by armed groups or criminal gangs. “Countless migrants and refugees lost their lives during captivity by smugglers, after being shot, tortured to death, or simply left to die from starvation or medical neglect,” the report says. “Across Libya, unidentified bodies of migrants and refugees bearing gunshot wounds, torture marks and burns are frequently uncovered in rubbish bins, dry river beds, farms and the desert.”

Those who manage to survive the abuse and exploitation, and attempt the perilous Mediterranean crossing, are increasingly being intercepted – or “rescued” as some claim – by the Libyan Coast Guard. Since early 2017, the approximately 29,000 migrants returned to Libya by the Coast Guard were placed in detention centres where thousands remain indefinitely and arbitrarily, without due process or access to lawyers or consular services.

UN staff visiting 11 detention centres, where thousands of migrants and refugees are being held, documented torture, ill-treatment, forced labour, and rape by the guards. Migrants held in the centres are systematically subjected to starvation and severe beatings, burned with hot metal objects, electrocuted and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment with the aim of extorting money from their families through a complex system of money transfers.

The detention centres are characterized by severe overcrowding, lack of ventilation and lighting, and insufficient washing facilities and latrines.  In addition to the abuses and violence committed against the people held there, many of them suffer from malnutrition, skin infections, acute diarrhoea, respiratory-tract infections and other ailments, as well as inadequate medical treatment. Children are held with adults in the same squalid conditions.

The report points to the apparent “complicity of some State actors, including local officials, members of armed groups formally integrated into State institutions, and representatives of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence, in the smuggling or trafficking of migrants and refugees.”

The UN independent human rights expert on torture, Nils Melzer, estimates that, given the risks of facing human rights abuses in the country, transfers and returns to Libya can be considered a violation of the international legal principle of “non-refoulement”, which protects asylum seekers and migrants against returns to countries where they have reason to fear violence or persecution.

“The situation is utterly dreadful,” said Michelle Bachelet on Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Tackling the rampant impunity would not only end the suffering of tens of thousands of migrant and refugee women, men and children seeking a better life, but also undercut the parallel illicit economy built on the abuse of these people and help establish the rule of law and national institutions.”

The report calls on European States to reconsider the human costs of their policies and ensure that their cooperation and assistance to the Libyan authorities respectful of human rights, and in line with international human rights and refugee law, so they do not, directly or indirectly, result in men, women and children being trapped in abusive situations with little hope of protection and remedy.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This is what you need to know about the Iran nuclear deal

A brief history of cryptography and why it matters

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

On Youth Participation: Are we active citizens?

MWC 2016 LIVE: Verizon boasts momentum for IoT platform

In 1975 NASA envisioned future life in space would look like this

Human rights ‘core to sustainable development’: deputy UN chief

Alarming number of women mistreated during childbirth, new UN health agency figures show

Service and Sacrifice: Ugandan ‘Blue Helmets’ support UN efforts to bring peace to Somalia

Withdrawal Agreement: Commission sends letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breach of its obligations under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

This is how we can empower 8 billion minds by 2030

MEPs call on EU Commission to step up action against dangerous chemicals

It’s down to cities to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030

4 key steps to support cross-border payments and digital trade growth

A Brussels antithesis reveals where the EU is heading

Balancing The Broken See-Saw of Gender Power Dynamics as a Medical Student

IMF: When high yield goes boom

VP McGuinness on women’s rights: “Not an option, but a duty”

Blockchain will make sure green pledges aren’t just greenwash: a new initiative by young leaders at the World Economic Forum

Why countries are desperate to defy the odds and access Mars

Egypt: The road to hell paved with western advices for democracy

Rohingya emergency one year on: UN says thousands of lives saved, but challenges remain

5 ways CEOs can renew their businesses for the digital age

MWC 2016 LIVE: Stripe gives payments leg-up to startups in emerging markets

Tackling pollution and climate change in Europe will improve health and well-being, especially for the most vulnerable

UN experts voice ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s ‘consistent pattern’ of denying life-saving medical treatment to detainees

3 lessons from running an AI-powered start-up in Africa

How studying genetics and lifestyle can shape a healthier MENA region

Fighting crime: faster EU-wide exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records

China Unlimited: an exclusive interview with the former Ambassador of Hungary to China

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

George Floyd: these are the injustices that led to the protests in the United States

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Will Europe be able to deal with the migration crisis alone if Turkey quits the pact?

Code of Practice on Disinformation one year on: online platforms submit self-assessment reports

Electric vehicles are half the market in Norway

EU mobilises further €15.2 million humanitarian support for food safety, epidemics preparedness and support to people in conflict areas in Latin America and Caribbean

Universal Health Coverage will ‘drive progress’ on 2030 Development Agenda

Marco Polo’s Dream

UN Convention that promotes mediation to resolve trade disputes moves closer to entry into force

6 principles to unite business in the fight against cybercrime

Trade with the United States: Council authorises negotiations on elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

If a virus could sing … Could this musical version of COVID-19 help us defeat the disease?

‘Exercise restraint’ Guterres urges Sri Lankans, as political crisis deepens

How global food safety protects the planet and begins on the farm

Electronic cigarettes – The alternative we’ve been looking for?

EU Strategy on COVID-19 vaccines must guarantee safety and accessibility for all

UN Security Council offers Yemen Special Envoy ‘their full support’

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

Why EU’s working and unemployed millions remain uncertain or even desperate about their future

Confidence-building measures continue in new Yemen prisoner-swap talks

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

The new European Union of banks is ready

New Syria fighting represents ‘giant powder keg’, warns aid veteran, as he leaves UN stage

Sweden must urgently implement reforms to boost fight against foreign bribery

Young people worldwide can ‘determine the future of migration,’ says UN senior official

‘Reasons to hope’ for sustainable peace in Central African Republic – UN Mission chief

Why artificial intelligence is learning emotional intelligence

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s