A year after shocking images purporting to show human beings being bought and sold in Libya caused a global outcry, the situation for migrants and refugees in the country remains bleak and in some respects has worsened, Amnesty International said Monday in a press release.
The organization noted that ''EU member states' policies to curb migration, as well as their failure to provide sufficient resettlement places for refugees, continue to fuel a cycle of abuse by trapping thousands of migrants and refugees in appalling conditions in Libyan detention centers.''
Migrants 'exposed to torture, extortion and rape'
''One year after video footage showing human beings being bought and sold like merchandise shocked the world, the situation for refugees and migrants in Libya remains bleak," said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International. ''Cruel policies by EU states to stop people arriving on European shores, coupled with their woefully insufficient support to help refugees reach safety through regular routes, means that thousands of men, women and children are trapped in Libya facing horrific abuses with no way out."
''Migrants and refugees in Libyan detention centers are routinely exposed to torture, extortion and rape,'' the statement stressed. Amnesty International noted that the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) ''has registered 56,442 refugees and asylum seekers in Libya and has repeatedly called on European and other governments to offer resettlement to refugees stranded in Libya, including through evacuation to Niger. However, only 3,886 resettlement places have been pledged by 12 countries and in total just 1,140 refugees have been resettled from Libya and Niger so far. Italy separately evacuated 312 asylum seekers from Libya directly to Italy between December 2017 and February 2018, but no further evacuations took place until the resettlement of 44 refugees on 7 November.''
6,000 migrants detained in Libya centers
Over the past two years, ''EU member states have put in place a series of measures to block migration across the central Mediterranean, boosting the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept sea crossings, striking deals with militias in Libya and hampering the work of NGOs carrying out search and rescue operations,'' Amnesty International said.
There are currently around 6,000 refugees and migrants being held in detention centers in Libya, it noted. ''For refugees, who cannot return to their home country, the lack of international resettlement places on offer has left thousands stranded in Libyan detention centers,'' it said.
''Armed clashes in Tripoli between August and September this year have also made the situation for refugees and migrants more dangerous. Some of those held in detention centers have been wounded by stray bullets. There have also been instances where detention center guards have fled to escape rocket attacks leaving thousands of inmates locked up without food or water,'' it noted.
''While Europe fails to extend the desperately needed lifeline to save those stuck in Libya and at risk of abuse, it is time that the Libyan authorities take responsibility for their atrocious policies of unlawful detention and protect the human rights of all people in their territory,'' Morayef said.