- Title: War creates new uncertainty for migrants in Libya
- Date: 22nd October 2019
- Summary: MISRATA, LIBYA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS WHO WORK AS DAY LABOURERS WAITING ON ROADSIDE TAJOURA, TRIPOLI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS WHO WERE INTERCEPTED BY COASTGUARDS AT SEA AND BROUGHT BACK TO LIBYA MISRATA, LIBYA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS WHO WORK AS DAY LABOURERS WAITING ON ROADSIDE TAJOURA, TRIPOLI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MIGRANT FROM SOMALIA, HAMED, SAYING: "There are no human rights for migrants in Libya, honestly. We don't have the right to study or work and the treatment is bad. If there is a way for the Europeans to help us with rescue ships like they did before, we hope they do. We hope that the Dublin Regulation (European Union agreement on migration) would fail. It is the Dublin Regulation that held us back." MISRATA, LIBYA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS GATHERING AROUND CAR TAJOURA, TRIPOLI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MIGRANT FROM SOMALIA, HAMED, SAYING: "(When we were brought back to) Libya, there were pregnant women and children. We are 45 (migrants on intercepted boat). We ran out of water at sea." VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS SITTING (SOUNDBITE) (French) MIGRANT FROM MALI, DEMBA DEMBELE, SAYING: "There are pregnant women, men who suffered. This is how it happened. Then they took us to Libya." TRIPOLI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 12, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS WORKING AS GARBAGE PICKERS AT LANDFILL SITE GARBAGE VARIOUS OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS WORKING TAJOURA, TRIPOLI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (French) MIGRANT FROM MALI, DEMBA DEMBELE, SAYING: JOURNALIST ASKING: Just to understand your story, How long have you been in Libya?" "Me? One year and a half." JOURNALIST ASKING: "And this is the first time you try to leave by boat?" "This is my second time." JOURNALIST ASKING: "Second time?" "I did the first time, this is my second time." JOURNALIST ASKING: "And what happened the first time?" "The first time, when we did the call, when you make the call, they locate us and bring us back to Libya." JOURNALIST ASKING: "When was this?" "It was last year around seven months ago."
- Embargoed: 5th November 2019 14:25
- Keywords: migrants in Libya migrant detention centres in Libya Tajoura detention centre migrants
- Location: TRIPOLI AND MISRATA, LIBYA
- City: TRIPOLI AND MISRATA, LIBYA
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA001B26HB2T
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: After three days at sea trying to reach Europe, Demba Dembele was intercepted by Libya's EU-backed coastguard and returned to Tripoli - where, like dozens of other migrants, he got in a taxi and set off into the city.
For years, migrants sent back to Libya have been routinely transferred to government-affiliated detention centres notorious for squalid conditions and abuse.
Now, with several centres closing, some migrants are being allowed to walk free when they disembark, though they face an uncertain fate in a country shaken by renewed conflict over the past six months.
Dembele, a 28-year-old from Mali, had twice tried to get to Europe. After his first attempt failed, he spent three months in detention where he said he saw guards firing on migrants who tried to escape on two occasions.
During his first attempt, he saw one Liberian man shot dead.
Smugglers' boats still leave frequently for Europe, but the proportion of migrants being intercepted and returned to Libya has risen over the past two years.
This coincided with a collapse in the networks that sent more than 600,000 across the central Mediterranean from 2014-2017, as armed groups seeking to clean up their image have moved away from the trade.
Just 8,400 have made the crossing to Italy so far this year, and 7,400 have been intercepted and returned, according to United Nations data.
But the shift has made Libya even more brutal for migrants who remain, exposing them to increased levels of abuse and extortion by smugglers struggling to make money in a shrunken market, researchers and aid workers say.
Detention centres nominally under the Tripoli-based, internationally recognised government are controlled by armed groups now involved in the fight against Haftar, and some migrants have been enlisted in the war effort, aid workers and rights groups say.
The centres have also become targets. In July, more than 50 migrants were killed in an air strike on a centre in Tajoura, close to where Dembele Hamed disembarked.
Though Dembele and more than 80 other African migrants who left in taxis avoided immediate detention, aid workers worry that some may be even more vulnerable to underground smugglers if they are not taken to the centres, where international organisations have at least sporadic access.
Libya has an estimated migrant population of 640,000. The centres house just 5,000, but turnover can be rapid. In the past, centres that were closed have reopened, or new centres have sprung up at different sites.
(Production: Ayman Sahely, Mai Shams El-Din)
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