UN: Migrants in Libya Forced to Return Home


The United Nations (UN) said in a report that migrants in Libya are “subject to systematic human rights violations and abuse to compel them to accept so-called assisted returns to their countries of origin,” according to the Associated Press.

The report noted that migrants in Libya are “trapped in an untenable situation.” They say the migrants are “forced to choose between returning to the countries they fled because of unsafe or unsustainable conditions — or facing continued ill-treatment in Libya.”

The report added that migrants are threatened with torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and extortion.

UN Human Rights Spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani said that assisted returns, in principle, are meant to be voluntary. “However, the report finds that in reality, many migrants in Libya are unable to make a truly voluntary decision to return in accordance with international human rights laws and standards. Many of them find they have no choice but to return to the same circumstances that made them leave their countries in the first place.”

Shamdasani added that most migrants come from Sub-Saharan Africa, and are exposed to particularly severe treatment in both official and unofficial detention facilities.

“One of the witnesses of a police anti-migrant raid said, ‘If they saw a black person, they would just catch you.’ They demolished homes, and locked people up in jail. They were holding 4,500 black people like dogs,” she added.

Shamdasani told Voice Of America (VOA) the report was shared with Libya prior to its release. She says no formal response has been received, but UN officials will be reaching out again to offer their support in implementing the report’s recommendations.

She stressed that Libyan authorities “must end all violations and abuses of migrants’ rights.” As well as adding that other states should provide more protection to migrants trapped in Libya by increasing safe and regular pathways of admission to their territories.”