NATO presides over Libyan refugees tragedy

This video, from CNN in the USA, is called Amnesty International: It’s a Bad Time to be a Black man in Libya.

By Bill Van Auken:

NATO powers indifferent to Libyan refugees

21 September 2011

The same NATO countries that have waged war on Libya in the name of “protecting civilians” have given “an abysmal response to the plight” of refugees during this conflict, Amnesty International charged in a report released Tuesday.

The report calls urgent attention to the conditions facing some 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers who are stranded at squalid encampments on the borders with Tunisia and Egypt. Forced to flee violence in Libya—just as many of them had been forced to flee their home countries for refuge in Libya—they are no longer allowed to go anywhere else.

In addition to killing and wounding tens of thousands of Libyans and leaving much of the country’s infrastructure in ruins, the US-NATO war launched last March has proven a catastrophe for the estimated 1.5 million to 2.5 million foreign-born workers who were living and working in Libya when the war began.

The majority have fled the country, losing their livelihoods and facing extreme hardship. For many thousands, however, escape has proven thus far impossible.

At least 1,500 of these workers are believed to have lost their lives trying to flee Libya by boat. NATO, which has deployed a naval armada off the Libyan coastline, was charged with refusing to rescue people who drowned or died of thirst or starvation while trying to make the crossing to Europe.

The majority of these workers came to Libya in search of work from poorer countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

They, along with black-skinned Libyans, have been targeted by the NATO-backed “rebels” for violent assaults, imprisonment and lynchings based on the spurious charge that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi used Sub-Saharan African mercenaries to defend his regime.

The US and the European powers that conducted the war against Libya have turned a blind eye to these racist pogroms, while celebrating the supposed dawn of a new “democracy” and lining up to secure a bonanza in oil and reconstruction contracts.

Most of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who were able to make it across the Tunisian or Egyptian border have been repatriated to their home countries.

Nearly 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers, however are stranded at the Choucha refugee camp near the Libyan-Tunisian border, while 1,000 more are stuck at the Saloum Border Post in Egypt.

The Amnesty report states that the Choucha camp is located in an isolated area of desert that is known in Tunisia as “the door to the Sahara,” where conditions are extremely harsh. Conditions at the Saloum Border Post in Egypt are even worse, with the majority of the people living in makeshift tents made of blankets and plastic sheets.

According to the report, women and children at the Saloum camp are housed in two large tents. The makeshift shelters do not protect their occupants from “the heat of the day and the cold at night, nor stop the scorpions and fleas.”

Amnesty interviewed refugees in the two camps about why they had come there. As the report states, “As the violence increased, thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers tried to leave Libya. Many of those who fled Libya to Egypt and Tunisia told Amnesty International that they were stopped at check-points by armed men, robbed of their possessions, and in some cases beaten. Some witnessed other Sub-Saharan Africans being shot.”

At the Choucha camp, Amnesty spoke to Hafiz, a young man from Darfur, Sudan. “When the problems [conflict] started, local people carried guns and accused us of being mercenaries,” he said. “They came in cars and would take our belongings. They would fire their guns in the air. One night Gaddafi’s guards came to the house and searched us. That is when I realized there is no security and it is better to go to a safe place.”

Another Darfuri refugee at the Saloum border post in Egypt told a similar story: “When the conflict started I was living in Benghazi. I stayed home for a month because I saw on the news and heard from Sudanese friends that the thuuwar [“revolutionaries”, as the NATO-backed forces are known] were targeting dark-skinned people. My Filipino neighbour did not face problems because he is white; he would buy us food. On 17 March 2011, before sunset, three or four armed rebels entered the house. They hit me in the face with the end of the gun, then took our money, passports and mobiles.”

Gun smuggling along Libya-Egypt border: here.

Civilian casualties in Sirte, Libya: ‘There were a lot of deaths yesterday, including children’: here.

Accused of Fighting for Qaddafi, a Libyan Town’s Residents Face Reprisals: here.

Supporters of the former Libyan general Abdel Fattah Younes marched through the city of Benghazi. They are not satisfied with the NTC’s investigation into his death: here.

How Britain courted, armed and trained a Libyan monster: here.

Migrants clash with police in Lampedusa: here.

Refugees clashed with police and residents on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday, prompting Italy to threaten them with transfer and repatriation within 48 hours.

11 thoughts on “NATO presides over Libyan refugees tragedy

  1. Police crackdown on migrant demo

    ITALY: Riot police laid into refugees on Lampedusa island today as they protested against overcrowding at the detention camp where they are locked up.

    Police cracked down on the demo a day after the migrants set mattresses on fire in protest at the Berlusconi administration’s policy of forced repatriations.

    Television footage showed riot police wielding clubs and beating the migrants.


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  8. Lampedusa, l’hypocrisie absolue

    MICHEL COLLON : “Cette fois, on va faire quelque chose!”. Vous y croyez encore à ces nobles promesses des dirigeants européens ? Ils versent des larmes de crocodile mais en réalité ce sont eux qui poussent ces malheureux dans les embarcations des passeurs mafieux. Ce sont les multinationales européennes qui pillent ces pays du Sud, et ce sont les dirigeants européens qui leur imposent l’obéissance. En plus, en 2007, sept pêcheurs tunisiens accusés d’avoir « favorisé l’entrée irrégulière d’étrangers sur le sol italien » ont été poursuivis par la justice italienne, mis en prison et ont vu leur bateau placé sous séquestre : ils avaient porté secours à des migrants dont l’embarcation était en train de sombrer et convoyés jusqu’à Lampedusa. Union européenne, reine des hypocrites !

    Qui est responsable du naufrage de « l’anti-Titanic » de Lampedusa ? – Nazanin Armanian

    Les morts de Lampedusa sont dus à une Europe assassine – Migreurop, Forum tunisien, ARCI, Groupe antiraciste au Maroc, Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme, Boats4People, Réseau euro-méditerranéen des droits de l’homme


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