- Title: Desperate African refugees pay to get into Libyan jails - UNHCR
- Date: 17th October 2019
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR) SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN SITUATION, VINCENT COCHETEL, SAYING: "Sometimes they feel better protected in detention centres than outside detention centres. Because some nationalities outside detention centres are targeted by human traffickers, are kidnapped, and then you have extortion, you have torture. So, some people don't feel safe in many urban centres in Libya. So, some of them prefer to be detained, even if the conditions are not good in those detention centres. Others try to bribe their way to get inside the detention centre in the hope that UNHCR will resettle them."
- Embargoed: 31st October 2019 16:57
- Keywords: Libya refugees migrants detention centres UNHCR United Nations
- Location: TRIPOLI AND TAJOURA, LIBYA / GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- City: TRIPOLI AND TAJOURA, LIBYA / GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004B1HLSG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: African refugees in Libya are so desperate that some are bribing their way into detention centres in the hope of eventually being resettled out of the war-torn, lawless country, the United Nations said on Thursday (October 17).
Forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in April to try to wrest control of Tripoli from forces aligned with the internationally-recognized government, which is based in the capital.
An air strike by opposition forces in July that killed more than 50 people at Tajoura detention centre in Tripoli increased pressure on countries to find a safe haven for trapped refugees and migrants.
But despite continuing shelling and air attacks, few countries have agreed to take refugees out of Libya, where fighting has killed more than 1,000 and displaced 28,000 since April, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
Libya has become the main conduit for Africans fleeing war and poverty trying to reach Europe since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, though the number of crossings dropped sharply from 2017 amid a European Union-backed push to block arrivals.
The North African country is host to 45,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers as well as an estimated 650,000 migrants, many of whom found jobs there, Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR special envoy for the central Mediterranean situation, told a briefing in Geneva.
More than 5,000 refugees and migrants are held in 19 official detention facilities, some controlled by armed groups, as well as an unknown number in squalid centres run by traffickers, he said.
Detainees include those who left on boats for Europe and were brought back by the Libyan Coast Guard, Cochetel said, underlining that it is not a safe country of asylum.
(Production: Cecile Mantovani)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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