The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Friday raised concern for detained migrants and civilians in Libya amid commander Haftar-led military campaign in the North African country, Anadolu Agency reports.
IOM Director General António Vitorino dubbed Libya as an unsafe country for the migrants who tried and failed to reach Europe.
“The safety of migrants in detention is especially concerning should there be an escalation in military action. The fate of all Libyan civilians and the safety of humanitarian workers also remains an overriding concern,” Vitorino said in a statement.
On Thursday, Khalifa Haftar — who is affiliated with a rival government based in the eastern city of Al-Bayda — formally announced the launch of operations to seize control of the capital Tripoli.
According to UN, 1,073 migrants have returned to Libya after rescued at sea and placed in “arbitrary detention” in 2019 so far.
In 2018, more than 14,000 civilians were displaced and over 2,000 migrants caught up in fighting, the IOM noted.
Visiting Tripoli amid escalations, UN Secretary General António Guterres said migrants in detention are not only Libya’s responsibility but whole international community.
“I am deeply shocked and moved by the suffering and despair I have seen in the detention centre in Tripoli, where migrants and refugees are in detention for unlimited time and without any hope to regain their lives,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, Antonio Tajan, the president of European Parliament, said chaos and a new migration crisis must be avoided in Libya.
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.
Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power: one in the eastern city of Al-Bayda, to which Haftar is linked, and another in Tripoli.