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Libya: UN Humanitarian Coordinator condemns killing of migrants

01 juin 2020

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A detainee mother, with a sleeping baby on her back, feeds her other child some bread inside the female room of a detention centre in Benghazi, Libya. Credit: OCHA/Giles Clarke

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Yacoub El Hillo, strongly condemned the killing of 30 migrants and injuring 11 others at a smuggling warehouse in Mezda, in the south-west of Tripoli, this past Wednesday.

Human trafficking and smuggling constitute a grave violation of international human rights law. He called for this heinous and merciless crime against helpless individuals to be investigated immediately and those responsible be brought to justice. 

There are more than 654,000 migrants and refugees in Libya, many who face arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, forced labour, extortion and exploitation.

The continued arbitrary detention of thousands of migrants and refugees in both official centres and informal smuggler sites in Libya is a critical concern. The impunity with which smugglers and traffickers operate in Libya must be brought to an immediate stop.

In other news, shelling continues to take a heavy toll on the civilian population in the country. Several civilians were reportedly killed and injured on 31 May when rockets hit a residential neighbourhood in Tripoli.

On 28 May, a doctor working with the Tajoura field hospital was killed by shelling in the area. This brings the indirect or direct attacks on health infrastructure to 20 this year. The attacks have resulted in the death of 6 health staff or support personnel, and 21 others have been injured. 

The UN and humanitarian partners reiterate the call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, given their likely indiscriminate effects.

Amid ongoing fighting, our humanitarian colleagues report that Libya continues to grapple with COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases has increased to 156, including 5 deaths. The past few days have seen a surge in cases in the south, followed by Tripoli and Misrata.

In response, UN and humanitarian partners continue to work on the front lines, in difficult operating conditions, to provide humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people, returnees, conflict-affected non-displaced Libyans, migrants and refugees who are affected by COVID-19 or ongoing insecurity. 

The 2020 Libya Humanitarian Response Plan requires $130 million, including $15 million to COVID-19 response. As of today, the Plan is only 27 per cent funded.