325 detained migrants evacuated as war reaches Tripoli

By Ahmed Elumami TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency evacuated 325 African refugees on Wednesday from Qasr Ben Gashir detention centre in southern Tripoli because of deteriorating security and escalating violence. The refugees - mainly Eritrean, Sudanese and Nigerian - were taken to a detention centre in Zawiya, a town west of the Libyan capital, where they were at 'reduced risk', the UNHCR said in a statement.

Reuters April 25, 2019 03:06:01 IST
325 detained migrants evacuated as war reaches Tripoli

325 detained migrants evacuated as war reaches Tripoli

By Ahmed Elumami

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency evacuated 325 African refugees on Wednesday from Qasr Ben Gashir detention centre in southern Tripoli because of deteriorating security and escalating violence.

The refugees - mainly Eritrean, Sudanese and Nigerian - were taken to a detention centre in Zawiya, a town west of the Libyan capital, where they were at "reduced risk", the UNHCR said in a statement.

The latest evacuation, which followed a protest and violence at the facility on Tuesday that left 12 injured inmates needing hospital care, brought to 825 the number of refugees and migrants transferred farther from clashes in the past two weeks. The agency called for the release of the remaining 3,000 in custody.

"The dangers for refugees and migrants in Tripoli have never been greater than they are at present,” said Matthew Brook, UNHCR deputy chief of mission in Libya. “It is vital that refugees in danger can be released and evacuated to safety.”

More than 3,600 jailed migrants have been trapped in the capital since forces from the east of the country started an advance to capture it, the United Nations says.

Earlier, Libyan officials opened the doors of a detention centre for illegal migrants in Tripoli, but frightened Somalis and other sub-Saharan Africans told Reuters they had decided to stay there for fear of getting caught up in fighting engulfing the capital.

"We don't want to leave. ... We have no place to go," said a 20-year-old migrant who gave his name as Daoud, sitting on a mattress in a packed warehouse where 550 migrants have been held.

His pregnant wife sat with other women in a different room also lacking air conditioning, trying to endure the sweltering heat.

In the quieter eastern Tajoura suburb, the manager opened the gate of his detention centre housing migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and some Arab countries. Everyone stayed, surviving on one meal of pasta a day. On a good day, they get two.

'IT'S NOT ENOUGH'

Large parts of Libya have been lawless since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and the country has become the main transit point for hundreds of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East attempting the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Officials have been accused in the past of mistreating detainees who are held by the thousands as part of European-backed efforts to curb smuggling.

At the Tajoura detention centre, authorities have not supplied any food or water since before fighting started last week, said Nour Eldine Qarilti, the director.

"We have not received any assistance from all international organisations," he told Reuters. "Some local NGOs still support us with simple needs but it's not enough."

Hundreds of migrants lay on mattresses, their few belongings packed in plastic bags or wrapped in towels. Laundry was hanging from the ceiling. Others were using a kitchen to cook lunch for others for a small fee.

According to the United Nations, Libya is now hosting more than 700,000 people who have fled their homelands, often trekking through the desert in pursuit of their dream of crossing to a better life in Europe.

They then try to find smugglers to put them on boats. But with Italy and France helping to beef up the Libyan Coast Guard, most now get caught before reaching Europe.

According to one U.N. report last December, migrants and refugees in Libya suffer a "terrible litany of violations" by a combination of state officials, armed groups and traffickers. "These include unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, gang rape, slavery, forced labour and extortion," it said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Ahmed Elumami and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Peter Graff and Peter Cooney)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.