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Hundreds detained in Libya after brutal anti-migrant crackdown

Migrants in Tripoli, Libya on 19 October 2021 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]
Migrants in Tripoli, Libya on 19 October 2021 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

More than 600 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants were arrested and moved to Ain Zara Detention Centre in the southern part of Tripoli on Monday.

The mass arrest followed a peaceful demonstration by migrants who had gathered in protest for relocation, protection and evacuation, outside the UN Refugee Agency's Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli.

In December, UNHCR was forced to permanently close the CDC due to difficulties in coping with the number of people in need of assistance. Thousands of people have been sleeping outside the centre, many of them as a result of increasingly heavy-handed security operations in Libya.

Libyan security forces reportedly used brutal force against migrants outside the CDC in an effort to *move them to Ain Zara detention centre. As well as arresting and detaining migrants, security forces allegedly burnt down makeshift tents outside the CDC, with video footage on the Refugees in Libya Twitter page appearing to confirm this.

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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement that a team of doctors treated 68 people who had been injured during the mass arrests.

Gabriele Ganci, Head of Mission for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Libya, said: "During the weekly visit to Ain Zara to provide medical and mental health care to people detained, MSF teams have treated patients with stab wounds, beating marks and signs of shock/trauma caused by the forced arrests. Among them, there were people who had been beaten and separated from their children during the raids."

The arrests on Monday come after a similarly brutal crackdown by Libyan security forces against migrants in Gargaresh, a municipality located west of Tripoli. Around 4,000 migrants, including women and children, were detained, according to officials. Libya's interim Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, praised the operation, which supposedly targeted drug and alcohol dealers.

Hundreds of migrants are already detained at the Ain Zara Detention Centre, where detainees live in overcrowded cells and a lack of basic amenities, such as food and toilets. A video posted by Refugees in Libya shows the inside of the centre, calling the current situation inhumane.

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