A rescued migrant | Photo: ANSA
A rescued migrant | Photo: ANSA

Many refugees and migrants are stuck in detention centers near the civil war frontline, according to Doctors Without Borders, while thousands Libyan families have had to flee their homes. MSF is warning that access to healthcare is limited for those people and medical supplies are expected to run out after less then two weeks.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) asked that the over 3,000 refugees and migrants trapped in the detention centers near the fighting in Libya be evacuated. They also want indiscriminate attacks on populated areas be avoided. The NGO also called on EU Member States to find an agreement to disembark migrants in safe ports and to stop punitive actions to hinder humanitarian organizations working at sea. 

"One of the desperate options for Libyans and non-Libyans seeking to escape the fighting is the Mediterranean Sea... In the vacuum of any dedicated search and rescue response in the Central Mediterranean, people's lives are significantly at risk at sea just as they are in Tripoli's conflict areas," MSF said. 

Libya is a key transit country for many migrants trying to get to Europe - in particular for people from Sub-Saharan Africa. For the past five years, a civil war has ravaged the country, with several rivaling groups battling for control. 

The situation according to MSF

Here's how MSF described the situation on the ground in detention centers near the fighting: 

"Over recent days, approximately 200 people were moved from the Ain Zara detention centre, which is just 1.5 kilometres from the frontline, to Sabaa detention centre which is 6.5 kilometres from the frontline... With the new arrivals, the population size in Sabaa has surged to nearly 540 people, exacerbating already poor conditions and services. With a further 150 refugees relocated early last week to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Gathering and Departure Facility, Ain Zara detention centre is now believed to be empty... While the numbers in each detention centre are subject to change daily, currently there are 135 people in Anjila detention centre which is 5.5 kilometres from the fighting. A few days ago, there were around 910 people in Abu Salim, 6.5 kilometres from the fighting. This detention centre is anticipated to be directly affected by conflict in the coming days." 

MSF actions to help 

MSF said it's trying to provide as much help as possible for those in need in Libya. "In Sabaa detention centre, as well as providing medical consultations, MSF teams have distributed a much-needed five-day supply of food rations, including fresh vegetables," the organization said, adding that medical teams also provided hygiene kits in several shelters for displaced families that had to flee their homes. 

Elsewhere in the country, the NGO said, "MSF activities are continuing outside of Tripoli, where our teams are providing assistance to over 800 people arbitrarily detained in Khoms, Zliten, and Misrata. We also continue to carry out medical consultations in Bani Walid.We are concerned about a group of over 80 patients who were transferred about two months ago to a detention centre in Sirte, as we can no longer follow-up and treat these people, many of whom have serious medical conditions. All medical referrals to Tripoli hospitals organised by MSF teams from Khoms, Zliten, Misrata, Bani Walid or Sirte are no longer possible due to the current conflict."

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