A migrant detention centre in Zawiya, 30 kilometers from Tripoli | Photo: ANSA/Zuhair Abusrewil
A migrant detention centre in Zawiya, 30 kilometers from Tripoli | Photo: ANSA/Zuhair Abusrewil

The UN Migration Agency IOM said in a statement that over 2,000 migrants "remain detained in deplorable conditions" in Libya. They called on EU states to ensure that migrants rescued at sea are not sent back.

The UN Migration Agency IOM launched an appeal to the international community, including the European Union, regarding conditions for migrants in Libya.

"The humanitarian situation in Libya continues to deteriorate as the conflict enters its tenth month," IOM said in a statement published on Wednesday. "Over 2,000 migrants remain detained in deplorable conditions, amid access challenges for humanitarian workers. During the first two weeks of January 2020, nearly 1,000 migrants were returned to Libya, and 600 of them were taken to a facility under the control of the Libyan Interior Ministry. Those migrants are now unaccounted for." 

IOM is appealing to the EU and the international community to "find alternative solutions and a safe disembarkation mechanism for migrants rescued fleeing Libya." 

Migrants returned to conflict zone

It said roughly 200 migrants were returned to Tripoli hours after the city's main port was heavily shelled on Tuesday. 

"Libya cannot wait," said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda. "It is time for concrete action to ensure lives rescued at sea are taken to ports of safety, and to end the system of arbitrary detention." 

IOM said there is a need for "increased, comprehensive and state-led search and rescue capacity." The organization added: "A predictable and quick disembarkation mechanism, whereby Mediterranean states take equal responsibility in providing a port of safety to people rescued at sea, should be established as a matter of urgency." 

Libyan detention centers: Torture, abuse

IOM said the efforts of NGO vessels operating in the Mediterranean should be recognized and any restrictions and delays on disembarkation must be lifted. It said the United Nations "continues to document abuse, torture, disappearances and dire conditions in Libyan detention centers."

"It is unacceptable for the current detention system to continue despite repeated calls to dismantle it", IOM said. The goal, the UN agency said, must be to find "alternative solutions that guarantee at least a minimum degree of safety and security." 
 

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