Libyan detention centre guards shoot dead six migrants amid crackdown against refugees

Guards at a Libyan detention centre shot dead six migrants, the United Nations agency for migration said, amid an ongoing violent crackdown against refugees and asylum seekers.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday said overcrowding at the Ghot Shaal detention centre in Tripoli had led to chaos at the facility.

The UN agency’s Libya chief Federico Soda said “shooting broke out and six migrants were killed in total. They were shot by the guards.”

Libyan security forces have detained more than 5,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, over the past week.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said they were housed in crowded, unsanitary detention centres.

Of those detained, 215 are children and more than 540 women, at least 30 of whom were pregnant, according to estimates by IOM.

Authorities described the roundup as a security campaign against undocumented migration and drug trafficking, but the Interior Ministry, which led the crackdown, made no mention of traffickers or smugglers being arrested.

Amnesty International has called on Libyan authorities to charge anyone who committed a crime, while releasing those who are innocent, such as children.

Among those arrested are many who have registered with the UN refugee agency, meaning they have been recognised as refugees or asylum seekers.

In 2020, Libyan authorities legitimised informal places of captivity by integrating them into the official migration detention infrastructure under the control of the Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) of the Ministry of Interior.

Thousands of refugees and migrants have been arbitrarily detained at these centres and subjected to torture, sexual violence and other abuse with impunity, according to human rights watchdogs.