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Libya: UN "concerned by inhuman treatment" of migrants

Libya: UN "concerned by inhuman treatment" of migrants
A picture from the Libyan Red Crescent on February 15, 2023, shows workers handling bodies of some migrants thought to have died after their boat sunk off the coast of Libya.   -  
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The United Nations Mission of Support in Libya (Manul) expressed its concern on Monday at the arbitrary detention of migrants and asylum seekers, calling on the Libyan authorities to treat them with "dignity".

The UN is "concerned about the massive arbitrary detentions of migrants and asylum seekers across the country", where the authorities have arrested "thousands of men, women and children in the streets, in their homes or during raids on so-called camps and hideouts of traffickers", according to a statement issued by its mission on Monday.

Manul denounced the detention of "pregnant women and children" in "overcrowded and unsanitary" conditions and the "collective expulsion" of thousands of foreigners, even those who had entered the country legally.

The Libyan authorities must "put an end to these actions and treat migrants with dignity and humanity", in compliance with their international commitments, and grant UN agencies and NGOs "unhindered access to detainees in need of urgent protection", according to Manul.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Libya is home to more than 600,000 migrants. Apart from a few visa-exempt nationalities, most of them have entered the country illegally, often from sub-Saharan Africa, through the porous borders of the vast desert south.

Plunged into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011, Libya has become a hub for thousands of would-be emigrants heading for Europe via the Mediterranean.

Hundreds of migrants are regularly intercepted by the navy in international waters and forcibly returned to Libya, where they are placed in detention centers.

Rival authorities in the west and east frequently raid neighborhoods where migrants are concentrated in, such as the suburbs of the capital Tripoli (west) and Tobruk (east), 120 kilometers from the Egyptian border.

In early June, local media relayed unauthenticated videos showing almost a thousand Egyptians being expelled by the authorities in eastern Libya and forced to march towards the border.

More than 7,000 migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya since the beginning of the year, 368 are missing and more than 600 have drowned off the Libyan coast, according to the IOM. According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), since the beginning of 2023, more than 54,000 migrants have landed on the Italian coast, including more than 22,000 from Libya.

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