Libya Releases Over 200 Detained Migrants After 18 Months

Libya Releases Over 200 Detained Migrants After 18 Months
Libya Releases Over 200 Detained Migrants After 18 Months

Over 200 male asylum seekers, who had been arbitrarily detained in the Libyan government-run Ain Zara detention center for 18 months, were finally released last week, according to InfoMigrants newspaper.

The group, consisting of 218 Sudanese and two Ethiopian migrants, had been held following their involvement in a sit-in outside the UNHCR headquarters in Tripoli. They had demanded relocation assistance, after applying for asylum with the agency.

Their release was achieved through a long and complicated lobbying process, conducted by the organization Refugees in Libya. This is according to the group’s Spokesman, David Yambio, a Sudanese refugee.

Yambio, who himself spent time in Libya advocating for the rights of others like him before reaching Europe last year, said he and others had been pushing UNHCR to “take responsibility” for the migrants since their release from the center.

After persistent lobbying, UNHCR finally provided buses to transport the migrants away from the Ain Zara detention center, and is now helping them look for housing.

UNHCR has acknowledged the transfer in a newsletter, stating that it had helped with the transfer of 220 individuals, and provided cash and other forms of assistance to the migrants.

However, Yambio argued that the money provided was “not enough to rent a house in Tripoli.”

He acknowledged that UNHCR set up appointments with group members, so they could tell their stories in an effort to help identify the most vulnerable among them, but claimed that this was “not what they want.”

The release of these migrants highlights the ongoing struggles faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Libya, where they face arbitrary detention, abuse, and exploitation, and underscores the importance of continued advocacy and support for those seeking safety and protection.