Migrants held in the Libyan detention centers face shortages of water, food, and medical care and can experience physical mistreatment and torture | Photo: I.Zitouny  / Reuters
Migrants held in the Libyan detention centers face shortages of water, food, and medical care and can experience physical mistreatment and torture | Photo: I.Zitouny / Reuters

Following days of mass arrests in Tripoli, the population of Libya's already overcrowded detention centers has tripled, say the humanitarian medical charity Doctors without Borders, MSF.

Due to a crackdown operation last week, numbers of people held in Libyan detention centers have tripled, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday, October 6. In a press statement, MSF said it was "profoundly disturbed" by the increase.

Libya's Interior Ministry announced the launch of a security campaign to round up people they described as "drug dealers, alcohol traffickers, and illegal migrants" at the beginning of October.

The announcement was followed by multiple raids across Tripoli. Throughout the weekend, armed forces rounded up over 5,000 undocumented migrants, including hundreds of women and children. One young migrant was killed and at least five others "sustained gunshot wounds," according to the United Nations.

Apprehended people were then transferred to detention camps.

MSF, which provides medical care in three detention centers in Tripoli, said that it witnessed many detainees being held in "overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without access to sufficient food, water, shelter, or medical care."

Arbitrary detention

Also read: Thousands of migrants rounded up in Libya

"We are seeing security forces take extreme measures to arbitrarily detain more vulnerable people in inhumane conditions in severely overcrowded facilities," said MSF's operations manager for Libya Ellen van der Velden, in a statement.

The organization said many of the captured individuals reported experiencing "severe physical violence, including sexual violence" during the raids and also in the detention camps.

Non-profit organizations and human rights groups had already described the conditions in Libya as deplorable, where migrants suffer abuse and serious ill-treatment, and cases of torture and sexual harassment is reported frequently by detainees.

MSF accesses some centers

In the past two days, stated MSF, staff from their organization had gained access to two detention centers. Shara Zawiya and Al-Mabani (also known as Ghout Sha’al).

In the first center, MSF teams said they witnessed more than double the number of people crammed into the center which generally holds between 200-250 people. Among the detainees were pregnant women and children. "Around 120 people were sharing just one toilet," wrote MSF, "while buckets filled with urine were lined up near the doors of the cells."

In the second center, the MSF team said that they witnessed such overcrowded conditions that some men detained there were "forced to stand." Some of the men said they "had not eaten for three days." Several men, said the teams were found in an "unconscious state and needed urgent medical attention."

MSF said they managed to treat 161 patients during their visit but that their time in the camps was "severely limited," they witnessed extreme violence and heard gunfire at close range. Some men were taken from the camps and driven off in vehicles to unknown destinations.

With dpa

 

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