While the humanitarian situation in the capital Tripoli worsens for all civilians, some 3,300 migrants who remain detained in similar centres are considered at-risk.
An airstrike on Tajoura detention centre in Libya late Tuesday night killed at least 44 migrants and injured more than 130 others including some registered with IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme, several of whom were scheduled to return home in the coming days.
The United Nations Network on Migration condemns the attack on the refugee and migrant detention centre in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that has killed at least 44 people and wounded more than 130 others.
The attack is an appalling breach of international law and the imperative to safeguard civilians from conflict. It also highlights the additional plight of the thousands of migrant women, men, girls and boys arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in detention centres across Libya, where the UN has documented degrading, inhumane and unsafe conditions, including torture, ill-treatment, forced labour, enforced disappearance, rape, and a lack of access to food and essential medical care, among other serious human rights violations.
The Network calls on all Libyan actors to safeguard the lives of all migrants on their territory or under their authority and to proactively take measures to protect them and other civilians from the ongoing armed conflict. The Network urges the Libyan authorities, regional allies and the international community to use this tragic episode as a turning point and to end the flagrant abuse of migrants and their exposure to danger. This must include a thorough investigation of the incident and commitment to bring those responsible to account.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is built on the bedrock of the United Nations Charter and international law. It represents a collective commitment to cooperate to save lives and prevent migrant deaths and injuries and to uphold the human rights of everyone. Yesterday’s bombing questions that collective commitment.
The attack also places the spotlight on the often unconscionable conditions in which many migrants are detained, not just in Libya but around the world, and the grave risks they face in detention. In pursuit of a better life for a range of reasons, numerous migrants in all regions undertake long and treacherous journeys. Too often, the end point is criminalization and detention rather than appropriate protection and assistance. Worrying and intensifying reports of immigration detention – often for prolonged periods and in inhumane conditions – demand a reconsideration of an approach that is unsustainable while being unquestionably harmful for migrants.
The United Nations Network on Migration calls on States to put an end to unnecessary and arbitrary instances of detention, as well as substandard conditions of immigration detention, including overcrowding and lack of access to food, hygiene and health services, to reunite families immediately, and to ensure that no child is ever detained for reasons relating to their, or their parents’, migration status. Migrant women, men, girls and boys are entitled to appropriate protection and care, based on individual assessments, in accordance with international human rights law, and with particular respect to their right to liberty.
Many United Nations offices which make up the Network are working to address these issues, including in the context of humanitarian evacuations and assistance; protection programmes tailored for migrants, including migrant children and women; as well as voluntary return and reintegration assistance, to name a few. The Network remains committed to work with and through its members and partners to help save migrant lives and advance the guiding principles and objectives spelled out in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
“Innocent lives were lost in last night’s attack, and immediate action is needed from all sides,” said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Othman Belbeisi.
“The suffering of migrants in Libya has become intolerable. It must be clear to all that Libya is not a safe port and that thousands of lives remain at imminent risk.”
One hundred and eighty-seven of the more than 600 detainees from several countries were registered for VHR.
Immediately following the attack, IOM doctors and nurses arrived at the detention centre accompanied by ambulances responding to the tragedy that destroyed the hanger where 180 male migrants were detained.
IOM doctors provided assistance to people at the scene, referred those with severe injuries, some needing urgent surgical interventions, to clinics and continue to follow up on their cases today.
The teams managed to locate a group of injured migrants who left Tajoura after the attack in the surrounding neighborhood and transferred them to hospital for further treatment.
As night falls in Tripoli an estimated 250 migrants, many of them women and children, remain at the detention centre.
IOM continues to call for an end to the arbitrary detention and reminds all parties that civilians are not a target.