The migrant detention center in Zuwara | Credit: MSF
The migrant detention center in Zuwara | Credit: MSF

The organization, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has reported that around 800 migrants and refugees are being held in a detention center in Zuwara, Libya. The conditions at the center have been decribed as inhumane and MSF is calling on authorities to take urgent action.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has released a statement expressing concern about approximately 800 migrants and refugees who are being held in an extremely overcrowded detention center in the port city of Zuwara, Libya, about 100 kilometres west of Tripoli. It said men, women, and children have been held "in inhumane conditions for over five months, without adequate food or water." 

"The situation is critical," said Karline Kleijer, MSF emergency program manager. "We strongly urge all international agencies with a presence in Libya, representatives from the countries of origin, and the Libyan authorities to do everything they can to find a solution for these people over the next few days." 

Hundreds of detainees without a solution 

Last week, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR airlifted 88 people in need of international protection from Zuwara to another detention center in Tripoli, where the most vulnerable cases will be identified for potential evacuation from Libya. Libyan authorities have also transferred some people to other detention centers, in an attempt to reduce the excessive overcrowding in the Zuwara centre. 

Meanwhile, the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) has started a process of voluntary humanitarian return for some detainees. However, "hundreds of people are still in the center without a solution in sight," said MSF. 

Situation worsens every day 

"The situation is deteriorating daily as more refugees and migrants are arbitrarily detained," MSF said. Since April 18, when the organization began its intervention at the center, another 500 people have been brought to the already overcrowded site. At present, the Zuwara detention center is holding four times more people than it has space for. 

"A large number of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Zuwara have already endured alarming levels of violence and exploitation in Libya and during the harrowing journeys from their home countries," MSF said. "Some of the people brought to the center were malnourished on their arrival as they had been held captive by smuggling networks in the area," it said. MSF has called for an immediate end to the arbitrary detention of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Libya. (The migrant detention centre in Zuwara. Credit: MSF)

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