The International Rescue Committee (IRC) revealed that about 500 children have been intercepted at sea and brought back to Libya.
The IRC reported that over 5,800 people have risked their lives between March and September 2020, trying to cross the Mediterranean. This includes 19 pregnant women, and children who have all been sent to Libyan detention centres.
The IRC confirmed the number of detainees increased from 23 to over 1,000 in the last two weeks of September. Despite currently having the capacity to host and feed only, 150 people per day.
It warned against the overcrowding and appalling conditions in these centres. It urged this to be addressed, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“For children, this is deeply distressing. When they are brought back they are in need not only of medical care to treat their wounds, but also of psychological support to help them cope with what they have seen and experienced,” said Tom Garofalo, Country Director for the IRC in Libya.
“Survivors have experienced what the rest of us can only imagine. Many have been raped, tortured, beaten, detained and further abused – sometimes multiple times,” he added.
In January 2020 in Berlin, Libya’s warring parties announced their commitment to begin the process of ending arbitrary detentions, and gradually closing these centres.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, noted that commitments had not been met. He called for refugees and migrants “held in detention in inhumane conditions [to] be released and provided with safe shelter.”
The IRC called for, “An immediate end to arbitrary detention and for those brought back from sea to receive all necessary healthcare, and emotional support.” It also urged for referrals for those who need further assistance or specialised services.