Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville Date: 7 June 2019Location: Geneva Subject: (1) Libya(1) Libya We are deeply concerned about the ghastly conditions in which migrants and refugees are being held in detention in Libya – with some 22 having died of tuberculosis and other illnesses in the Zintan detention facility since September 2018 – as well as ongoing reports of disappearances and human trafficking after people were intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard.
So far this year, a total of more than 2,300 people have been picked up off the coast of Libya and put in detention facilities.
Some 432 Eritreans detained in the facility – 132 of them children – reportedly receive only half of this amount.
Libya is notoriously perilous for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, who often suffer a litany of abuses, including at the country’s numerous detention facilities.Conditions at these facilities, many of which are under the control of militias, are deplorable.There are frequent shortages of water and food; over-crowding is endemic; detainees can experience physical mistreatment and torture; forced labour and slavery are rife; and there is a stark absence of oversight and regulation.Nevertheless, Italy and the European Union continue to strike controversial migration control deals with various actors in Libya aimed at reducing flows across the Mediterranean.During a recent visit to the Zintan Detention Centre, where 654 refugees and migrants are held, we found them severely malnourished, lacking water, locked in overcrowded warehouses reeking with the smell of rubbish and waste from overflowing latrines.
Those held in the facilities reportedly receive only one meal of 200 grams of plain pasta per day.
However, the Al-Khoms facility reports that there are currently only 30 migrants present.
This is particularly worrying given reports that migrants are being sold for forced labour or to smugglers promising transit to Europe.
A rescue operation, carried by the Libyan Coast Guard and local fisherman, has been underway since this morning and is ongoing.
“We must not simply accept these tragedies as inevitable,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean.
We remind the Government that when a person dies in custody, there is a presumption of State responsibility.