UN slams 'horrific' violence against migrants in Libya

Libyan authorities have denied the shooting at an overcrowded detention facility in Tripoli. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (AFP) - The United Nations on Tuesday (Oct 12) denounced violence against migrants in Libya after security forces shot dead at least half a dozen asylum seekers in recent days.

Libyan authorities have denied the shooting at an overcrowded detention facility in Tripoli following mass arrests targeting migrants.

The UN's International Organisation for Migration said six people were killed and at least 24 injured.

On Tuesday, the UN Refugee Agency said it was "extremely worried about the continued suffering of migrants and asylum seekers in Libya".

UNHCR spokesman Marta Hurtado said many migrants were experiencing "a myriad of daily violations and abuses at the hands of both state and non-state actors".

"This series of horrific events over a period of eight days is just the latest example of the precarious, sometimes lethal, situation facing migrants and asylum seekers in Libya," she said.

The killings came a week after sweeping raids in Tripoli, mostly targeting irregular migrants, left at least one person dead and 15 wounded, with thousands more detained, according to the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

Hurtado condemned what she termed "a perceptible increase in heavy-handed security operations and raids targeting migrants and asylum seekers" held in atrocious conditions.

She added that Libyan authorities had an obligation to protect everyone on their territory, including migrants and asylum seekers, and urged "impartial and independent investigations" into the use of force against them.

Libya is a key departure point for tens of thousands of migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, hoping to reach Europe.

Human traffickers have profited from Libya's decade of chaos following the 2011 revolution, carving out a lucrative but brutal trade.

Official centres for migrants detained in war-battered Libya are riddled with corruption and violence, including sexual assault, according to the UN and rights groups.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.