“Migrants Not Welcome” – Libya

Many migrants and refugees camp outside the United Nations centre in Libya seeking help to escape the country after the brutal violence that occurred in detention centres.

By Josh Raynham (Staff Writer)

On Sunday, October 10th, 2021, hundreds of migrants and refugees gathered outside a United Nations (UN) centre in Tripoli to seek help in trying to escape Libya after a violent crackdown saw thousands arrested and several people shot.

The plea from refugees trying to escape the country came after the arrests of over 5 000 people, consequently leading to overcrowding in Libya’s detention centres, as well as the killing of six migrants by Libyan guards.

Those waiting outside the UN centre slept on pavements with bandages on their heads, legs, and hands from wounds inflicted within the detention centres. Stories of hunger, desperation, and abuse were told by those who had experienced time within these prisons, with many speaking of being beaten and tortured regularly. Those attempting to escape say they have been faced with violence and abuse in a country that has now become a major transit point for those seeking a better life on the shores of Europe.

“We are guilty of nothing except emigrating from our country… but we are treated as criminals and not as refugees,” said Mohamed Abdullah, a 25-year-old refugee from Sudan.

The migration crisis, which has been brewing in Libya for over a decade, came to be through the instability caused after the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) led the war against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The fall of the regime left a hole in the country. Unstable politics and institutional ruin have paved the way for the emergence of criminal syndicates whose trade in human beings has finally attracted global attention.

Human trafficking has since been encouraged following the Libyan government’s rejection of the European Union’s plea to set up reception centres in Libya for African asylum seekers attempting to cross into Europe.

The combination of a breakdown in the national government, as well as a rise in the criminal enterprise, have placed Libya and other North African countries at the forefront of this migration crisis.

Gambling with death has become a daily struggle for millions of African men, women, and children whilst attempting to cross over to Europe and other parts of the world in search of greener pastures. This quest to escape poverty, hunger, and insecurity has consequently landed many within the borders of Libya and ultimately within a nationwide humanitarian crisis.

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