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200 migrants kidnapped and tortured in Libya

Refugees are seen after being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea on 15 June 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater/Anadolu Agency]
Refugees are seen after being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea on 15 June 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater/Anadolu Agency]

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is currently organising efforts to rescue around 200 mainly Somali and Ethiopian migrants it believes have been kidnapped and held and tortured in a Libyan detention centre.

The group has met with the UN in Libya to coordinate the investigation after the migrant’s families revealed they have received ransom requests from people smugglers.

Videos on social media have shown people being ruthlessly beaten and groups of people huddled in small rooms in an unknown location saying that they have not been fed, have had their arms broken and their teeth removed.

Read: 8 migrant bodies found off Libya, dozens feared missing

“IOM is currently working closely with all partners in trying to locate the migrants,” Othman Belbeisi, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Libya, said. “IOM supports the Libyan efforts in the fight against the smuggling networks and we are very concerned about the current situation.”

One video shows a malnourished man stating that he has been beaten every day and held captive for nearly a year. Kidnappers have asked his family for $8,000 to secure his release.

#MigrantCrisis

“Seeing a Facebook video of innocent migrants and refugees who have abused and tortured is deeply concerning,” the IOM’s Director of Operations and Emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker, said.

Abdiker condemned the way in which social media was being used by criminals to extort money from the families back home and called on online sites to do more to monitor and counter such “grave human rights abuses”.

Leonard Doyle, chief spokesperson for IOM in Geneva, said:

Social media, including Facebook, has a duty to better police content on its channels. It’s not a new argument and we are not accusing Facebook of complicity in murder. Rather we are saying that these channels are being abused by criminals.

Over 1,000 migrants were rescued yesterday some 30 kilometres off the Libyan coast. The Italian coastguard confirmed they picked up the migrants from nine rubber and wooden boats.

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