On Saturday, the United Nations (UN) voiced its extreme concern about reports of the excessive use of force by police against migrants and asylum seekers in Gargaresh, Tripoli.
In a statement, the UN Assistant Secretary-General Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Georgette Gagnon, said that at least 1 migrant was killed and at least 15 others injured, 6 seriously, when Libyan police, carried out raids on houses and temporary makeshift shelters yesterday in Gargaresh. This area of Tripoli is heavily populated by migrants and asylum-seekers.
“While the UN fully respects the state’s sovereignty and supports its duty to maintain law and order, and protect the security of their population, it calls on state authorities to respect at all times the human rights and dignity of all people, including migrants and asylum-seekers,” she added.
According to reports of officials from the Directorate of Combatting Illegal Migration, at least 4,000 people, including women and children, were arrested during the security operation. Unarmed migrants were harassed in their homes, beaten and shot.
Gagnon confirmed that the UN received reports of 1 young migrant being shot and killed, 5 other migrants sustained gunshot wounds and 2 of them are in serious condition in intensive care.
It also received reports that communications were shut down with individuals unable to access information and seek assistance.
Most of the people arrested are now being arbitrarily detained including in detention facilities operated by the Directorate of Combatting Illegal Migration, under the Ministry of Interior.
Gagnon also reiterated that the use of excessive and unwarranted lethal force by Libyan security and police forces during law enforcement operations is a violation of national and international law.
“We call on the Libyan authorities to investigate reports of security forces’ use of lethal and excessive force against migrants in yesterday’s operation,” the UN Official noted.
The UN has repeatedly condemned the inhuman conditions in Libya’s detention centres in which migrants and refugees are held in severely overcrowded facilities with limitations on access to life-saving humanitarian assistance.
“In line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Berlin Conclusions, we reiterate our call on the Libyan authorities to end and prevent arbitrary arrest and detention, and immediately release those most vulnerable, particularly women and children,” the statement read.
“In this context, we again urge the government to immediately allow the resumption of International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) operated voluntary humanitarian evacuation and return flights and departures of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers in Libya to destinations outside the country,” it concluded.