After pressure from the United Nations over extreme living conditions of immigrants that were revealed through several media investigations in Libya’s detention centres, the Libyan government has decided to shut down three of such centres. These include centres in Misrata, Tajoura and Khoms.
Now, there are reasons to believe that the influx of immigrants from these centres, will lead to overcrowding in the other remaining centres, not to rule out immigrants becoming targets to illegal drug and human traffickers.
At a time when apartheid and slavery could seem like words from a bygone era, African immigrants are facing the worst in Libya. Many of them have shared that in the false hope of reaching Europe, they have been talked into being sold at slave markets in Libya, often as sex slaves or construction workers.
In July United Nations finally sent off a message to Libya that all its detention centres may be shut down immediately. This development was a result of a revelation of the deplorable condition of African immigrants staying in a holding facility in Tripoli, which was devastated in an airstrike. It was revealed that the centre was holding more than it could accommodate and more than 50 people were killed in that strike.
The victims are said to be awaiting their chance to reach Europe on boats after fleeing poverty and conflict. The UN refugee agency had then called the facilities in the centres “awful”. Thousands of migrants, it was reported, were being held in dire conditions in government-run detention centres across Libya.
The United Nation’s refugee agency had then asked for all centres to be dismantled immediately, and that their detainees freed into their surrounding communities. The agency said it is ready to help support them there.
Surprisingly, there are 12 detention centres which are being run by the UN-backed government in Libya. Out of these, with three being closed down, there are is also news of shifting all the migrants to the Tajoura centre which falls close to the capital of Tripoli, a region which has been caught into a war between the UN-backed government and Haftar forces. It is not the right place to room people who are already disturbed and displaced, but waiting for another catastrophic human disaster ready to happen.