Migrants seen at Njila detention center after they fled from another center near the airport due to fighting between rival factions in Tripoli, Libya | Credit: EPA/STR
Migrants seen at Njila detention center after they fled from another center near the airport due to fighting between rival factions in Tripoli, Libya | Credit: EPA/STR

The horrifying stories that migrants have shared with workers of the Federation of Evangelical Churches of Italy (FCEI) on the island of Lampedusa prove that the situation in Libya remains dangerous. Violence, rape and abductions continue to make Libya a dangerous transit country for migrants and refugees.

The Federation of Evangelical Churches of Italy (FCEI) has documented new accounts of violence, rape and other human rights abuses as told by migrants who have recently crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to reach Italy. FCEI employees working on the island of Lampedusa as a monitoring body for migrant reception learned just how awful the situation in Libya is, with reports amassing about migrants trapped in Libya being able to barely survive under the conditions of their detention. 

These latest findings particularly shed further light on the widespread rape of migrant women held in captivity in Libya.

Multiple rapes every night

A woman using the pseudonym "Nour" to protect her identity told FCEI the horrors of being raped each night for a year during her captivity in Libya. She recounted how she was taken into a separate cell every night with other women, where four men where assigned to each woman, raping them repeatedly.

"And when one of the women got pregnant, she would be taken to the same place and kicked until she miscarried and the fetus came out of her body," the woman known as "Nour," who only arrived on Lampedusa on October 13, told FCEI.

Beaten every day

Another migrant named Abdi told the church group that he had left Eritrea, crossing into Ethiopia and then through South Sudan into Libya, where he spent a year and seven months in a closed space, where he was beaten every day. FCEI says that he was eventually forced by his captors to call his mother in Eritrea and demand $11,000 in ransom. Only after the sum was paid was he put on a boat to Lampedusa.'' 

Marta Bernardini, who works for FCEI, said that "these stories, full of brutality and human rights violations, show once again that we must work to create safe passages for those fleeing wars and poverty."

Changing migrant routes

The church organization also managed to learn more about changing migrant routes, as the sea route from Libya appears to be changing. One migrant named Imad told FCEI that in a bid to escape the Libyan Coast Guard, nowadays there are many transfers taking place from one vessel to another out at sea - until the migrants reach international waters. Imad, who also arrived on October 13, said that he had to pay human traffickers $2,700 for the journey from Egypt to Lampedusa, which included the travel on land as a stowaway on a lorry as well as the dangerous journey at sea.

He added that he suffered a great deal of violence and hunger along his journey, even at refugee camps, and highlighted that his sea journey itself was filled with inhuman acts. The people with the darkest skin color, he explained, were forced to stay in the hold of the boat while the Egyptians and Libyans could stay on deck, where it's easier to escape if the boat should sink. He said he was on a small vessel with 33 other people from Lebanon, Egypt, Somalia and Eritrea.

Imad also said that the boat stops about five hours away from the Lampedusa coast, forcing migrants to make their way there on their own - and at their own risk.

It is unknown how many fail at reaching their destination.


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