United Nations tally shows number of migrants gathered in unprecedented Libya crackdown surpass 5,000
ON BOARD GEO BARENTS – The number of migrants arrested in connection with the unprecedented crackdown in Libya exceeds 5,000 people, including hundreds of children and women, including dozens pregnant, according to a United Nations count.
The raids left a migrant shot dead and at least 15 others injured, according to the UN. The crackdown began on Friday in the western town of Gargaresh, a major hub for migrants in the North African nation. The tally, dated October 3 and obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, showed the roundup brought in 215 children and more than 540 women. Among them, at least 30 were pregnant, according to the UN
Libyan authorities have described the crackdown as a security operation against illegal migration and drug trafficking. Libya has become the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, in the hope of a better life in Europe. Oil-rich Libya plunged into chaos after the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Georgette Gagnon, UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya, criticized the raids, in which unarmed migrants were harassed in their homes, beaten and shot dead.
But the Interior Ministry, which led the crackdown, made no mention of the arrest of traffickers or smugglers. He has yet to address causalities among migrants and alleged abuses in the raids, including the use of lethal force, which have been raised by the UN.
The UN International Organization for Migration report obtained by the PA showed that 5,152 migrants have been detained in the raids since Friday. Those numbers are likely to rise, according to the report, as crackdowns continue in several parts of the region, also known as the Andalus neighborhood.
Authorities distributed the migrants to detention centers in the capital Tripoli, according to the IOM document. At least 4,187 of the detainees, including 511 women and 60 children, have been sent to Mabani detention center, well beyond its capacity. The Abu Salim center received at least 570 migrants, he said.
At least 390 others were taken to Share al-Zawiya detention center, including 30 pregnant women and 155 children, according to the document. The center already has 182 migrants previously intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea, he said.
These detention centers are rife with abuse, rights activists say. The AP also reported in June that guards from Share al-Zawiya sexually assaulted young Somali migrant women.
“People are pretty horrified,” she said. “This is truly a ‘wake-up call’ to the dire situation that exists in Libya for migrants and refugees and the international community must intervene.”