Category Archives: North Africa – The State Of Libya ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡พ

Shut all migrant detention centres in Libya – United Nations

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Report by Antonio Guterres says more than 2,780 people held in centres, with about one fifth of them being children.


United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called for the closure of all detention centres holding refugees and migrants in Libya, condemning what he described as human rights violations committed there.

“Nothing can justify the horrendous conditions under which refugees and migrants are detained in Libya,” Guterres said in a report submitted on Thursday to the UN Security Council, according to Noble Reporters Media‘s known Agency.

“I renew my appeal to the Libyan authorities โ€ฆ to fulfil their obligations under international law and to close all detention centres, in close coordination with United Nations entities,” he added.

According to the secretary-general’s report, more than 2,780 people were being detained as of July 31 in centres across Libya. Twenty-two percent of the detainees were children.

“Children should never be detained, particularly when they are unaccompanied or separated from their parents,” Guterres said, calling on Libyan authorities to ensure the children are protected until “long-term solutions” are found.

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Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, with warring rival administrations based in the country’s west and east battling for power.

Guterres: ‘Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money’ [File: Mahmud Turkia/AFP]

As the country slid into conflict, traffickers have exploited the unrest to turn the North African country into a key route for migration towards Europe, across the Mediterranean. In the past three years, however, crossings dropped sharply due to European Union and Italian-backed efforts to disrupt trafficking networks and to increase interceptions by Libya’s coastguard.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the systematic return of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean to Libya, where they are held in crowded detention centres nominally under the control of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

“The conditions in these centres are crazy,” Alkaol, 17, a migrant from The Gambia, told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media earlier this year.

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“Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don’t. If they give you bread, you eat half and save half. You don’t know when you will eat next. If you don’t have money, your only way out is either escaping or death.

“If they catch people running away, they shoot at you. They may shoot you in the leg, they may shoot you in the head.”

Guterres also cited reports of torture, enforced disappearances, and sexual and gender-based violence in the centres, committed by those running the facilities.

He also mentioned a reported lack of food and healthcare.

“Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money,” he wrote.

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“Migrants and refugees have been shot at when they attempted to escape, resulting in injuries and deaths,” the report said, alleging that some are even “left on the streets or bushes to die” when they are deemed too weak to survive.

In centres where arms and munitions are stored, some refugees and migrants are recruited by force, while others are forced to repair or reload firearms for armed groups, it said.

More than a year after a July 2019 air raid killed more than 50 refugees and migrants and wounded dozens more at a detention centre near Tripoli, no one has been forced to account for the deaths, Guterres said.

The attack followed repeated warnings about the vulnerability of people detained close to Libya’s conflict zones and raised tough questions about whether it was necessary to lock them up in the first place.


#Nnewsworthy…

Libya GNA accuses Haftar forces of disrupting eastern elections

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City elections in Misrata and those planned across western and southern Libya could help pave the way for nationwide elections.


Voters in the western Libyan city of Misrata are heading to the polls to elect municipal leaders.

Thursday’s vote in the war-torn country’s third-largest city and those planned across western and southern Libya could help pave the way for nationwide elections, but the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) has accused renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces of disrupting planned polls elsewhere.

“Unfortunately in eastern Libya they are going back to individual rule and they don’t have the freedom to vote,” Mohamed Shaafe, an election trainer, said.

“Elected officials were removed from office.”

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‘Voting only solution’
A major oil producer, Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The country has since been divided into two rival camps that are based in the country’s east and west – and that in recent years have been vying for power.

The conflict escalated in April last year when Haftar, who is supported by Russian mercenaries, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, announced an offensive to wrest control of the capital from the United Nations-recognised GNA.

Backed by Turkey, the GNA in early June succeeded in repelling Haftar, driving his self-styled Libyan National Army to the coastal Mediterranean city of Sirte.

Last month, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj offered a ceasefire and called for the demilitarisation of Sirte, a city located roughly halfway between Tripoli and Haftar’s bastion city of Benghazi.

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Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the Haftar-allied House of Representatives in Tobruk, has expressed support for the ceasefire initiative but Haftar rejected it, calling it a stunt aimed at catching the LNA off-guard.

Misrata, home to some 500,000 people, is a main source of military power for the GNA. Troops from the city played a major role in the GNA’s series of military victories that forced Haftar’s forces out of western Libya and towards the east.

“Some Libyans here say voting is the only solution to the conflict which has lasted years, but Haftar is removing elected city officials and issuing military orders to appoint their replacements,” Reporting from Misrata, Noble Reporters Media said.

“And with elections unlikely to be held in areas he controls, how and when the Libyan conflict will end remains unclear.”


#Newsworthy…

European Union seeks peace in Libya.

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The European Union’s high representative Josep Borrell held talks in Liba with the warring sides in a bid to find a solution to end the conflict.

Chaos erupted after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Since 2014, the country has been split between the rival factions: the Tripoli based Government of National Accord (GNA) and General Khalifa Hafta, who controls the east.

Both sides are backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

Fayez Sarraj, head of the GNA, announced a cease-fire on 21 August and called for demilitarising the key city of Sirte and the nearby area of Jufra, which would mean the withdrawal of forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter.

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Previous efforts to secure lasting cease-fires have stalled.

The two sides also agreed on the need of an “effective” international support to the political solution to Libya’s conflict, a statement said.

Hafter’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 trying to capture Tripoli.

But his campaign collapsed in June when the Tripoli-allied militias, with heavy Turkish support, gained the upper hand, driving his forces from the outskirts of the city and other western towns.

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The two sides also agreed on the need of an “effective” international support to the political solution to Libya’s conflict, a statement said.

But that may prove difficult with countries split on which side they support.

Turkey, Italy and Qatar are among those who side with the GNA.

Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates back General Haftar.


#Newsworthy…