UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has once more called for the closure of migrant detention centers in Libya. He highlighted that human rights abuses cost scores of migrant lives in the country.
According to a report submitted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the UN Security Council, more than 2,780 migrants are still being detained under "horrendous conditions" in centers across Libya. That number was last updated July 31. The UN chief highlighted repeated reports of torture, abduction, rape and slavery taking place in the detention centers, adding that a reported shortage of food and lack of health care further exacerbated the situation.
"I renew my appeal to the Libyan authorities ... to fulfill their obligations under international law and to close all detention centers, in close coordination with United Nations entities," Guterres said.
"Nothing can justify the horrendous conditions under which refugees and migrants are detained in Libya."
Children among detainees
According to the report, more than one-fifth of the detainees were children and underage youths. Secretary-General Guterres called on Libyan authorities to ensure that children were protected until "long-term solutions" could be found.
"Children should never be detained, particularly when they are unaccompanied or separated from their parents," he said.
Rampant migrant abuse
Some migrants meanwhile have also been recruited against their will to work in arms and munitions depots, the report said. There, they are often tasked with repairing or reloading firearms for various armed groups fighting for power in the country.
In July 2019, an air strike on such a facility killed more than 50 refugees and migrants at the Tajoura detention center near Tripoli. Guterres highlighted that to this day, no one had been held to account for these deaths, and the report underscored that grave human rights violations continued to take place across the country:
"Migrants and refugees have been shot at when they attempted to escape, resulting in injuries and deaths," the report said. Some were even "left on the streets or bushes to die" if they were deemed too weak to survive.
Casualties of civil war
Libya has been suffering an ongoing civil war since the overthrow of long-term dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, with rival factions fighting to rule over the north African country. The lack of rule of law and effective leadership in the nation has also resulted in Libya becoming the main transit point for many migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.
Each year, hundreds of asylum seekers die trying to reach Europe not just in the waters of the Mediterranean but also in forced labor camps and detention centers across Libya and in the Sahara desert en route.