Migrants in a detention center in Libya | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ZUHAIR ABUSREWIL
Migrants in a detention center in Libya | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ZUHAIR ABUSREWIL

The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has said that there is a ''catastrophic situation'' in Libyan detention centers that it visited. Over the past nine months, it noted, 22 people have died from suspected tuberculosis and other diseases in two detention centers south of Tripoli.

Since September 2018, at least 22 people have died from suspected tuberculosis and other diseases in the Zintan and Gharyan migrant detention centers in Gebel Nefusa, a mountainous region south of Tripoli. The healthcare situation was called ''catastrophic'' by a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) after visiting the two centers. 


Hundreds of people abandoned in detention 

''Hundreds of people in need of international protection and registered with UNHCR as asylum seekers or refugees have been left stranded in Zintan and Gharyan detention centers for months - and in some cases for years - with virtually no assistance,'' MSF said in a statement. 

''As a result of conditions in the detention centers, an average of two to three people have died there each month since September 2018,'' it added. 

MSF staff made their first visit to Zintan detention center in May. They found some 900 people detained there, 700 of them in an overcrowded hangar with four barely functioning toilets, no shower and only sporadic access to water, which was not suitable for drinking. 

''Healthwise, it was a disaster," said Julien Raickman, MSF head of mission in Libya. 

"A tuberculosis outbreak has likely been raging for months in the detention center. The situation was so critical that we immediately arranged lifesaving referrals to hospital during our initial visits." 

MSF calls again to evacuate centers 

Evacuations and resettlements of refugees and asylum seekers from Libya must urgently be scaled up, MSF said in the statement.''This can only work if safe countries in Europe and elsewhere live up to their responsibilities with regard to asylum, and if European states stop their outrageous policy of illegal pushbacks to Libya from the Mediterranean Sea," says Raickman.

"Zintan detention center isn't an exception - it's a stark reminder of a harmful detention system deliberately fed by Europe that is very clearly putting refugees' lives at risk," he added. (Picture shows a group of migrants in the Libyan detention center of Zawiya, 30km from Tripoli. ).
 

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