UN Investigates Reports of Migrant Mass Graves in Libya

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On Monday, the Head of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Libya, Mohamed Auajjar said that investigators had uncovered further evidence of serious rights violations. These were first made public last October.

“These abuses against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are detailed in a report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council on Wednesday,” the UN official said.

He added that his team’s findings include new information on “20 detention facilities, official and unofficial, and secret prison networks that are allegedly controlled by armed militias”.

Libya is a major transit point for Africans seeking to make the perilous journey to Europe. Many instead find themselves enslaved by militias and traffickers, or forced into prostitution.

Several migrants told the mission that there were “mass graves” in the desert city of Bani Walid, with one testifying that he had buried three people.

The report did not say how many bodies the graves might contain, and mission member Chaloka Beyani said a newly appointed forensic expert would try to investigate further.

Several women from East Africa also testified that they had been raped and sexually abused.

Beyani, one of the UN mission’s three members, described the situation for migrants in Libya as “very, very dire.” She called for technical assistance to help Libya hold the perpetrators accountable.

The mission is seeking a prolongation of its work beyond the end of June, when its final report is due.

Libya has been in turmoil for a decade following a 2011 NATO-backed uprising. A comparative lull in east-west fighting has set in since 2020. UN-backed efforts to organize elections as part of a peace process collapsed in December, intensifying a political crisis.

Over the weekend, two children were killed and one injured due to explosive remnants of war in Libya, according to reports received by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In a statement, it added that the children, including two brothers- are 6, 7, & 16 years old, from Benghazi and Sirte.

“Last year alone, the UN was able to verify that at least 26 children in Libya were killed or injured due to explosive remnants of war. “Every child in Libya across the country has the right to live in a safe and protective environment.

UNICEF called on all parties to spare no efforts to clear Libya of land mines and unexploded ordnances. In addition to supporting children & families affected in the country.