Credits: IPS


For over 10,000 migrants fleeing to Libya from war and violence, their fate often comes down to the mercy of human traffickers or the dark unknown awaiting in detention centers. The northern shores of Libya – the largest departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe – is a hotbed for modern-day slavery. Captured on land, intercepted at sea, cuffed and injured by militias and human traffickers, migrants are sent to detention centers and exposed to every abuse possible.

“From the moment [migrants] step onto Libyan soil, they become vulnerable to unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, unlawful deprivation of liberty and rape,” according to a report by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

However, not only has Libyan authority taken no measures to systematically address the issue, it has expanded its migrant detention capability with the aid of European governments.


‘Serious Health Threat’

The detention centers, controlled by Libya’s Ministry of Interior and guarded by the militias of the Government of National Accord (GNA), often hold hundreds of migrants in overcrowded spaces without proper ventilation or drinkable water.

“In some parts of the centre, toilets are overflowing and are in urgent need of repair. As a result, solid waste and garbage has piled up inside the cell for days and presents a serious health threat,” a spokesperson for the UN’s refugee agency said in a statement. Poor sanitation has led to deteriorating health conditions inside the detention centers, causing multiple disease outbreaks.

The medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called the situation “a disaster,” noting that hundreds of detained migrants use “four barely functioning toilets, no shower and only sporadic access to water” in a visit to Zintan detention center.

Dr. Hussein Hassan, emergency coordinator from the World Health Organization (WHO) Libya office, told IPS: “TB with other respiratory infections, HIV and skin diseases are some of the conditions that migrants in more than 34 centers are suffering from.”


Read more: IPS News