Don’t send refugees to Libyan torture jails, United Nations says

This Doctors Without Borders video says about itself:

5 Reasons Not to Trap Migrants & Refugees in Libya

13 September 2017

People who’ve left their homes searching for safety and a better life are being detained, imprisoned, tortured, raped, starved, and sold into slavery in Libya.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 14 November 2017:

UN: sending refugees back to Libya is inhuman

The United Nations refugee organization UNHCR has strongly criticized the European Union policy to assist the Libyan Coast Guard in intercepting boats with refugees.

There is not one Libyan Coast Guard, as there is not one Libyan government. There are at least three governments, each with their own armed gangs, killing each other’s gangsters and civilians. Some of them call themselves ‘the coast guard’. Some are paid by European Union taxpayers’ money, some by Italian taxpayers’ money, some by British taxpayers’ money, etc.

Human rights chief Zeid calls the way in which the refugees are detained in Libyan prisons inhuman and an insult to the conscience of humanity. He says that the situation has deteriorated considerably in recent times. “It was bad, but now it is catastrophic.”

In February, the EU signed an agreement with the government in Libya.

In exchange for around € 200 million, the Libyan Coast Guard must intercept ships in the Mediterranean and return them to land. The fact that the agreement does not contribute to the well-being of refugees has already been concluded by aid organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières.


Employees of the UNHCR were in Libya last week. They spoke to people who were detained in Tripoli. “They were shocked by what they saw,” said Zeid. “Thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled up on each other, trapped in hangars without access to the most basic provisions and stripped of their human dignity.”

According to the Libyan authorities, almost 20,000 refugees are now in prison. The UNHCR points out that they have no possibility to challenge their imprisonment and say they do not receive legal assistance. “Everything the EU has done so far has not helped to reduce abuses.”

This June 2017 video is called Rescued African migrants say they are fleeing slavery.

Libyan armed gang kills refugees

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Quarrel between [rescue organisation] Sea-Watch and Libya about sunken refugee boat

Today, 21:40

Sea-Watch claims that the Libyan Coast Guard

There is not one Libyan Coast Guard, as there is not one Libyan government. There are at least three governments, each with their own armed gangs, killing each other’s gangsters and civilians. Some of them call themselves ‘the coast guard’. Some are paid by European Union taxpayers’ money, some by Italian taxpayers’ money, some by British taxpayers’ money, etc.

is responsible for the death of five migrants at sea by reckless ship movements. A rescue boat from the relief organization came along with a boat from the Libyan coast guard at a rubber boat with around 140 refugees. This happened according to Sea-Watch in international waters.

According to the aid organization, the Libyans forced as many people as possible to go aboard to take them back to Tripoli. Subsequently, the coast guard’s vessel moved off at high speed while there were still refugees clinging to the sides of the ship. The rubber boat capsized throwing dozens of left-behind refugees into the water.

The incident happened at over fifty miles away from Libya at sea. With this action, Libya clearly transgressed the international rules, says Sea-Watch, as it happened outside territorial waters. …

Sea-Watch says 58 refugees have been rescued from the sea. The Libyan Coast Guard is said to have taken 45 people back to Tripoli.

Europe’s Quiet Offensive Against People Helping Refugees. A look back on three years since the end of Operation Mare Nostrum: here.

NATO governments helping war crimes in Libya

This video says about itself:

19 October 2016

How black Africans are in prison in Libya. They treat them like slaves; torture, no food.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Who is the West backing in Libya?

Thursday 28th September 2017

IAN SINCLAIR reminds us of the terrible situation in Libya and the West’s backing of a potential war criminal

BRITAIN joined the Nato military intervention in Libya “to uphold the will of the United Nations security council,” former prime minister David Cameron told the House of Commons on the eve of the war.

Six years on and the British government continues to cite the authority of the UN to justify its actions in Libya, with the Foreign Office noting last month that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had visited Tripoli “to discuss what more the UK can do to support the [UN-backed] government of National Accord (GNA) and the UN-led political process to help stabilise Libya.”

A bit of background. There are currently [at least] two rival power centres competing for legitimacy and control in Libya — the GNA, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, and a rival authority in the east of the country under the control of General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

More broadly, Libya is wracked by violence and chaos — a hellish mess that Nato bears significant responsibility for. “Continuing armed clashes have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and interrupted access to basic services, including fuel and electrical power. Forces engaged in the conflict are guilty of arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful killings, indiscriminate attacks, disappearances and the forceful displacement of people,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports.

“Hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers, including children, who flock to Libya mostly en route to Europe, experience torture, sexual assault and forced labour at the hands of prison guards, members of the coast guard forces and smugglers.”

The “crucial question,” the Foreign Secretary argued in March this year, is “how to make sure that Haftar is in some way integrated into the government of Libya.”

So who is Haftar? “Libya’s most powerful and polarising figure,” is how Frederic Wehry, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, summed him up in The Atlantic magazine.

The septuagenarian Haftar served as a field marshal in Muammar Gadaffi’s army, leading Libyan forces in the Chad war, before being forced into exile in the US, “where he developed close links with the CIA,” according to the House of Commons Library blog.

In 2011 he returned to Libya and emerged as a rebel commander in the Nato-backed uprising in which Gadaffi was toppled and killed.

Asserting himself after the Nato war, in 2014 Haftar announced “Operation Dignity,” ostensibly a campaign to defeat terrorists in Benghazi, though some observers see the military surge as more complex.

Writing in the London Review of Books, foreign correspondent Tom Stevenson notes Haftar “has been taking on Islamic State [ISIS], non-Isis jihadists and anyone else who stands up to him,” while Ahmed el-Gasir from the group Human Rights Solidarity told Al Jazeera last month that many perceived Operation Dignity as an attempted military coup.

Indeed, a March 2017 report from the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC), which was compiled after two council staff members travelled to Libya and met Haftar, notes he “sees his mission as a national project covering all of Libya.”

Not mentioned in the CMEC report is the fact human rights groups have highlighted numerous abuses committed by forces aligned with Haftar, “who seem to have torn up the rule book,” according to Hanan Salah, HRW’s senior Libya researcher.

Having visited Benghazi earlier this year, Wehry notes “reports of torture, disappearances, and the destruction of property emerge with numbing frequency,” with forces armed by Haftar responsible for many of the abuses.

“The tactics employed by Gadaffi in 2011 created certain divisions between towns or tribes, but they do not compare to what Haftar has done … the level of violence and disregard to the sanctity of human life and value of human dignity is unprecedented in Libyan society,” noted el-Gasir.

Politically, Wehry warns of Haftar’s “militarisation of governance,” in which “he has replaced elected municipal leaders with uniformed military officers” while “the Gadaffi-era intelligence apparatus is back on the payroll.”

However, despite the West’s public backing for the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli, last year Middle East Eye, citing air traffic recordings they obtained, reported that “a multinational military operation involving British, French and US forces is coordinating air strikes in support of” Haftar from a base near Benghazi.

This backing is confirmed by Wehry, who notes “the French, the British, and the [the United States] sent special operators who provided varying levels of intelligence and front-line support” to Haftar.

Middle East Eye’s scoop about the West’s relationship with Haftar followed another expose from the website that reported the British Special Air Service (SAS) was fighting Isis in Libya, alongside Jordanian special forces.

More recently, Middle East Eye reported that leaked 2014 emails between the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the US and the then US national security adviser Susan Rice seem to “indicate that the United States knew about illegal arms shipments to rebels in Libya” from the UAE.

This transfer — which likely went to Haftar’s forces — would, of course, have contravened the UN arms embargo, established with the backing of the US and Britain in February 2011.

The West’s support for Haftar is dangerous for three reasons. First, the US and Britain are assisting a “warlord” (the Guardian’s description) whose forces have been accused of numerous war crimes by human rights groups.

Second, the West’s backing for the field marshal is undermining attempts at national reconciliation. “Support by Western special forces, particularly French, to General Haftar has made it more difficult to reach a compromise with him because he thinks he has important external backing and therefore does not need to compromise with the unity government,” Mattia Toaldo, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the Middle East Eye.

Finally, supporting Haftar runs counter to the West’s professed support for the UN-backed government in Tripoli, the UN peace process and the UN arms embargo.

Frustratingly, the West’s shady dealings in Libya have gone largely unreported by the supposedly critical and fiercely independent British fourth estate.

Shamefully, one has to read the Middle East Eye and the US magazine The Atlantic to find out about the support Britain has given Haftar.

The British media has a similarly woeful record when it comes to Britain’s involvement in the Syrian war, with the New York Times, rather than a British newspaper, reporting in 2013 that British intelligence services had been working covertly with Saudi Arabia and the US to funnel arms to rebels.

“If people really knew the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.” This was prime minister David Lloyd George’s reaction after listening to an account of the fighting on the Western Front during the first world war.

What would be the British public’s reaction to its government’s covert interventions in Libya today? Unless British journalists start doing their jobs we may never find out.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reveals predatory agenda of NATO’s war on Libya: here.

African refugees abused in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya

This 12 April 2017 video is called Migrants being sold as ‘slaves’ in Libya, IOM reports.

Slavery in Libya was abolished in 1857; before, eg, the Dutch colonial empire abolished it. However, NATO’s 2011 ‘humanitarian’ war on Libya brought it back.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Three-quarters of young African refugees abused and exploited’

Today, 01:19

Shocking figures about young people and children refugees going through Libya to Europe. About three-quarters of them are being abused, ill-treated and exploited. This is in a report published by Unicef ​​and the International Organization for Migration of the UN.

Children and young people who are fleeing to Europe are affected by various human rights violations, according to the report. Many single young people can only pay a boat trip after doing forced labour. They are regularly detained, beaten and abused sexually.

The report is based on talks with 22,000 migrants and refugees. Including 11,000 children and young people.


Children and adolescents under the age of 25 especially get more violence and abuse. Young people with a low education level also appear to be more vulnerable to violence, as reported in the report. Especially the journey through Libya is dangerous because of the lawlessness and crime in the country.

Children and young people refugees from Central Africa are at the highest risk of exploitation and human trafficking. This is probably due to racism, say the researchers.