OHCHR Denounces Violence Against Migrants Departing Libya to Europe

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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called for urgent action to address the “dire situation” of migrants coming from Libya to Europe.

The UN human rights body denounced the violence against the migrants in “search of safety in Europe” and demanded states “to tackle the shocking conditions they face in Libya, at sea, and upon their reception in Europe.”

The OHCHR announced it has dispatched a team to monitor the situation of migrants transiting through Libya. “The team has highlighted a cycle of violence, it added.

The OHCHR explained that the migrants who had faced unimaginable horrors in Libya were left to drift for days at sea, had their boats dangerously intercepted and were returned to suffer arbitrary detention, torture and other serious human rights violations in Libya, which cannot be considered a safe port for migrants.

“For those rescued and disembarked on European shores, they are too often placed at risk of arbitrary detention, in conditions that may also amount to ill-treatment.”

“The situation has become all the more acute in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with humanitarian search and rescue vessels being prevented from continuing their life-saving work, as well as a lack of access by civil society groups that help migrants.”

The UN body criticized “the ongoing violence and insecurity migrants faced in Libya, including arbitrary detention, torture, trafficking, sexual violence, forced labour, sale, and other serious human rights violations and abuses.”

“The pressures on the reception system in Malta have long been known but the pandemic has clearly made an already difficult situation worse,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

“I urge the European Union and its Member States to ensure its Pact on Migration and Asylum addresses these challenges head on and results in a truly common and principled approach that ensures the respect and protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees,” she said.