From NATO’s Libya war to Manchester terror

This video from the USA says about itself:

From Libya to Manchester, Western Intervention Endangers Civilians

29 May 2017

Max Blumenthal, Senior Editor for Alternet‘s Grayzone Project, says the Manchester bombing’s ties to NATO intervention in Libya exemplify how Western policies overseas can help lead to attacks at home.

The Manchester Bombing Is Blowback from the West’s Disastrous Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars. How the U.S. and the U.K. helped bring jihadists like Salem Abedi to Libya and Syria. By Max Blumenthal.

This video from Britain says about itself:

Corbyn: War on Terror is not Working – We Need a New Solution

28 May 2017

Kam Sandhu of Real Media UK says that Corbyn has opened up a conversation in the UK that many people want to have but they have been under siege with ongoing terror attacks.

Spooks, torture, oil and war—how the British state brought terror to Libya. The British state has a long history of interfering in the Middle East. The carnage it sowed in Libya has now come back to expose the politicians who led it, argues Simon Basketter.

ISIS attacks in Europe coordinated from Libya, according to Italian weekly L’Espresso.


Bloodbaths in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya

This 22 March 2011 video from London, England says about itself:

Kate Hudson CND – Emergency Protest – Stop the Bombing of Libya Now! – Stop the War Coalition

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

In severe fighting between militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli 28 people were killed and more than 120 people were injured. In the city, loud explosions and artillery fire were heard throughout the day.

Elsewhere in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya, in Derna, there were six air raids by the Egyptian air force, as revenge for an attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt.

UPDATE 27 May 2017: 78 dead, 1000 injured in Tripoli, including civilians.

From NATO’s Libya child soldier to Manchester terrorist

This video from London, England says about itself:

Instead of bombing Libya, we need to end British support for despots says Jeremy Corbyn MP

Speech given by Jeremy Corbyn MP in the House of Commons on 18 March 2011 when MPs debated western intervention in Libya.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Did Bomber Learn to Kill in War for ‘Regime Change’?

Friday 26th May 2017

His highly religious family fled Gadaffi, but Salman Abedi returned in 2011 during the Libya conflict

THE Manchester Arena bomber may have been a jihadist radicalised fighting Colonel Gadaffi in Libya — with Britain’s help, new evidence suggests.

Former Libyan rebel fighters told news site Middle East Eye that Britain had allowed Libyan exiles to travel to the country to join the Western-backed uprising against the dictator, which was dominated by radical Islamist terror groups.

A mural in Tripoli paying tribute to fighters from Manchester who joined the 17 February Martyrs' Brigade during the war in Libya against Gaddafi (AFP photo)

Salman Abedi, whose terrorist attack on Monday night killed 22 people, is believed to have spent time in Libya during the 2011 uprising and was the child of an exiled Libyan couple who returned to fight.

It is understood that Abedi’s name was given to police several years ago because of his extreme views. He was also banned from his local mosque for the same reason.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has admitted Abedi, 22, was known to the security services “up to a point.”

Abedi is now thought by police to have been part of a network and a 23-year-old believed to be his elder brother was arrested in Chorlton, south Manchester, on Tuesday.

His younger brother and father resettled in Libya following the war and were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of links to the Islamic State (Isis) terror group, authorities there say.

Nato entered Libya’s civil war after UN resolution 1973 authorised the imposition of a no-fly zone, ostensibly to protect civilians, but from the beginning actively fought for the rebels by bombing Gadaffi’s forces, resulting in the fall of the regime and a civil war which has lasted ever since.

Only 13 MPs — including Labour’s current leader Jeremy Corbyn — stood up to the war fever and opposed Britain’s entry into the bloody conflict.

Russia and China protested at the time that the resolution, which they abstained on, had not authorised an armed intervention against the government.

Testimony from rebels who have returned to Britain now suggests that even known terrorists were cleared to go and fight.

One who had been under a control order on suspicion of planning to join terrorist groups in Iraq said he was “shocked” to be allowed to travel to Libya “no questions asked.”

He also alleged British authorities had returned passports to members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a radical anti-Gadaffi outfit funded in the 1990s by MI6, knowing they wanted to return home to wage war.

Another, named as Belal Younis, says he was asked by an MI5 officer if he was willing to fight the government — which overruled police when they tried to stop him from travelling.

The former fighters say they didn’t know Abedi and doubted someone who was 16 at the time would have been allowed to fight, but terror groups in Syria and Iraq frequently field child soldiers.

NHS England said yesterday that 116 people were treated after the bombing and 75 are still in hospital, including 23 who are “critical.”

In 2011, Channel4 News uncritically portrayed a ‘teenage Libyan rebel from Manchester’ as a hero: here.

This video says about itself:

Ariana Grande Concert & PTSD | Dissociation, Depression and Anxiety

25 May 2017

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester: I am getting a lot of messages from you about dissociation, stress, anxiety, and signs of PTSD in the aftermath of what has happened. So today’s video is about what PTSD signs to watch out for, what to do if you are experiencing it, how & who to reach out to for help. You are not alone. Your feelings are valid.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

A history of fuelling terror

Friday 26th May 2017

THERESA MAY has told her Nato allies that the lesson of the Manchester bomb attack is that the alliance must spend more on arms to raise its game against “terrorism.”

Her comment exposes the Prime Minister’s inability to examine the causes of jihadist extremism or to critically assess imperialism’s record of collaboration with it.

Allowing home-grown jihadists to go to Libya to overthrow the Muammar Gadaffi regime while providing them with air support, as Britain and France did, might have seemed clever at the time.

It secured the removal of an inconvenient leader who had metamorphosed from terrorism sponsor to valuable trading partner — remember Tony Blair’s “tent-in-the-desert” reconciliation with Gadaffi — and back to outcast status.

But Gadaffi’s removal had unforeseen consequences — not least fragmentation of the Libyan state, its supplanting by clan-based regional warlords and an opportunity for Islamic State (Isis) to fish in troubled waters.

That chaotic outcome was foreseen by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and just 11 other MPs in the House of Commons.

The rest were carried along by the “we’ve got to do something” brigade, which translates almost always into military meddling, supplying arms or unleashing the RAF to bomb one side or the other.

How short politicians’ memories are. Assisting regime change in Libya followed just eight years after Blair’s dodgy dossier and a media tsunami of pro-war propaganda convinced gullible MPs and those desperate to be persuaded that invading Iraq was a sound idea.

The result: a dysfunctional state, sectarian government, political priorities guided by national or religious affiliation and the birth of Islamic State powered by the arms and demobilised troops of the defeated Iraqi army.

Corbyn called this one right too, unlike those Labour backbenchers who deride his leadership qualities and, of course, our “strong and stable” Prime Minister.

Before Iraq was Afghanistan when Ronald Reagan’s US administration authorised supplies of sophisticated weaponry, including surface-to-air missiles, to the so-called mojahedin, including one Osama bin Laden, who had risen up against a progressive government backed by the Soviet Union.

Their seizure of power was succeeded by a carnival of corruption and chaos, following which the Taliban, armed and trained by Pakistani intelligence services, drove out the warlords only for the US and Britain to return them to power in 2001 after the Twin Towers atrocity carried out by a largely Saudi Arabian conspiracy.

When campaigning for the US presidency, Donald Trump said: “Who blew up the World Trade Centre? It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi — take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”

Last week, he signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Riyadh autocracy, backing its horrific slaughter of civilians in Yemen.

Neither he nor May, who also sells arms to the House of Saud, is unaware that this is the source of Wahhabism, the extreme interpretation of Islam adopted by jihadists who have declared war on the 21st century and been armed by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Yet the US and Britain choose to ride the Saudi tiger, supporting its bloody rampage in Syria while being shocked by outrages such as Manchester when European targets are hit.

Ramping up an arms race in response to Manchester is both wrong and futile.

It makes more sense to rethink foreign policy, help to end wars in the Middle East and work through the United Nations to help the millions of civilians ravaged by wars.

This video from England says about itself:

Jeremy Corbyn – Emergency Protest – Stop the Bombing of Libya Now! – Stop the War Coalition 20.03.2011

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

Manchester’s dead: Victims of British regime-change operations in the Middle East

26 May 2017

More details have emerged about the prior familiarity of British intelligence agencies with the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, whose murderous assault Monday evening left 22 people dead.

Given Abedi’s connections and his travel movements leading up to the attack, the only explanation for him being able to remain at large for so long is that he was a protected asset—part of a broad network of operatives utilised by Britain and the US to conduct their nefarious operations in the Middle East.

It is the exposure of these operations which accounts for the fury of Prime Minister Theresa May over the US leaking of intelligence information about the UK’s investigation into the bombing. Whatever the specific reasons for these leaks, they have completely undermined the British authorities’ original claims that Abedi was an unknown, “lone wolf”.

These claims are also undermined by this New York Times article: Manchester Bomber Met With ISIS Unit in Libya, Officials Say.

Rather, it is now clear that those killed and maimed while enjoying a pop concert are the victims of British regime-change policy in the Middle East and North Africa.

We know now that British intelligence had received warnings, on at least five separate occasions in the last five years, that Abedi presented a danger, including that he had discussed committing a suicide bombing.

According to new leaks Thursday, Abedi had travelled extensively in the run-up to the attack, including flying from Istanbul to the UK via Germany’s Dusseldorf airport. For years, Turkey has been used as a transit point into Syria by European jihadists, joining Western-led efforts to topple the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

Several sources, including French intelligence, have made public their conclusions that Abedi had been to Syria and received training there. The Financial Times also reported that a “Turkish official” said that Abedi had travelled through Istanbul on at least two other occasions over the past year. The newspaper reported, “In mid-April he flew from Amsterdam to Libya, while in late May 2016 he flew from Manchester to Libya, transiting through Istanbul Ataturk airport both times.”

Abedi may have travelled through at least two European Union countries on his way from Turkey to Manchester. Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported that Abedi flew from Dusseldorf to Manchester on May 18—four days before the attack. The newspaper cited German intelligence sources who said that he arrived in Germany from Libya via Prague.

The Guardian reported, “It is known that the 22-year-old travelled to Germany at least twice, including a visit to the financial city of Frankfurt.” It added, “Düsseldorf is in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Anis Amri, the Berlin Christmas market attacker, spent time.”

Further leaks were reported by the German magazine Focus. Citing German intelligence sources, it said Abedi flew to Frankfurt from Britain in 2015. Focus said that Germany’s intelligence agency BKA had been told by police in the UK that this visit took place before Abedi undertook paramilitary training in Syria. It reported that he had not been apprehended in Germany, as he was not on any watch list.

There is no innocent explanation for the fact that Abedi was able to travel to Libya, Syria, Turkey and the UK unhindered. It has nothing to do with the spurious claims about the UK having “leaky borders”, or too few border guards. Abedi’s ability to pass through customs without interference can only mean that he had been given the all clear.

For decades, successive British governments have worked with jihadi groups, prepared to use atrocities to achieve their objectives. This has meant that, behind the “war on terror” and the relentless assault on democratic rights that it has entailed, UK authorities have been harbouring Islamist extremist operatives and groups who can be set into motion at the required time, in line with British imperialist foreign policy objectives.

Groups such as Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda all had bases in London. Al-Qaeda considered London the nerve centre of its operations in Europe, with the security services collaborating with some of these organisations and their leaders, the most well known being Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada.

Likewise, British imperialism worked closely with Libyan Islamists, supporting them in their opposition to then Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. As former MI5 agent David Shayler revealed, MI6 collaborated with one such organisation, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, in the attempted assassination of Gaddafi in 1996.

For years, a group of LIFG members were active in the Whalley Range district of Manchester, close to Salman Abedi’s home. Salman Abedi’s father, Ramadan Abedi, an airport security officer, was an LIFG member. He and his wife, Samia Tabbal, a nuclear scientist, fled Tripoli in 1991 after he was arrested by the Gaddafi regime. He had been employed in the regime’s internal security service and was reportedly suspected of tipping off members of anti-Gaddafi Islamist groups about pending police raids. The Daily Mail reported, “It appears that Ramadan’s life revolved at several points around toppling Gaddafi…”

After fleeing Libya, Ramadan and his wife lived in Saudi Arabia for a period. They both then went to the UK and applied for and were granted political asylum. They lived first in London and then moved to the south Manchester area, which had become a centre for many anti-Gaddafi elements with which British intelligence maintained the closest links.

Ramadan returned to Libya some time in 2011 in order to fight in the imperialist proxy war that resulted in the overthrow and murder of Gaddafi in October of that year by US/UK-backed “rebels”. This took place after a NATO bombing campaign in which untold numbers were killed nationwide over the preceding eight months. Ramadan went on to become an administrative manager of the Central Security Force in Tripoli, one of the many militias vying for control of the country.

Samia, Abedi’s mother, is a close friend of Umm Abdul Rahman, the widow of a former Al Qaeda commander, Abu Anas al-Libi. Accused of involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings, the Daily Mail reported that al-Libi “spent five years in Manchester—having won political asylum in Britain in 1995.” The Mail said that “Abdul Rahman went to college in the Libyan capital with Abedi’s mother, who was studying nuclear engineering. She [Rahman] said the two women also lived together in Manchester for a number of years.”

Al-Libi was seized by US forces in Tripoli in October 2013 and died in 2015 of liver cancer before coming to trial. Following the Manchester bombing, Ramadan Abedi and his youngest son, Hashem, were arrested in Tripoli Tuesday night.

Salman Abedi was also known to have been a close associate of one of the main Islamic State recruiters in the UK, Raphael Hostey, who was killed in a drone strike in Syria in 2016. Hostey grew up in Moss Side, just a mile away from Abedi’s home in the Fallowfield district of the city.

In a statement on the bombing, the government of Abdullah Thinni in Bayda, Libya said it had warned the British government it was harbouring terrorists. Thinni’s government was driven out of Tripoli in 2013 by Islamic extremists, including UK-based Libyan exiles. It accused May’s predecessor David Cameron of backing terrorist groups who “have been destroying our cities and towns in an attempt to shape Libya into an exporter of terror to the whole planet.”

MORE money will be put into the government’s controversial Prevent “anti-extremism strategy” in the wake of the Manchester bombing, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced yesterday: here.

THESE MILITARY VETS HAVE A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO FIGHTING EXTREMISM “We just can’t keep killing our way out of this problem.” [HuffPost]

HOLLYWOOD actor Tom Hardy launched an appeal to raise funds for the victims of the Manchester bombing yesterday as workers across Britain paused in their duties to remember those who lost their lives: here.

NATO’s ‘new’ Libya bloodbath of civilians, militia men

This 28 September 2012 video says about itself:

It describes the events that caused the Libyan civil war and the NATO attack on Libya. It tells in an unknown richness of details the progression of the events that caused the war. Additionally it questions the UN resolution. The original documentary was made by citizens of Tripoli.

From the BBC today:

Libya death toll ‘rises to 140’ at Brak El-Shati airbase

Reports suggest as many as 140 people, including civilians, may have died in an attack on an airbase in Libya.

It was originally thought 60 people died when a government-allied militia tried to take over the Brak al-Shati base on Thursday.

The [Tripoli] government

one of at least three governments killing each other’s fighters and civilians in the ‘new’ Libya which resulted from the NATO 2011 ‘humanitarian’ war. The European Union wants to make a deal about forcibly returning refugees with one of these governments.

‘s defence minister and the commander of the militia have both been suspended pending an investigation.

The prime minister’s office has denied ordering the attack.

A militia spokesman said they had “liberated the base and destroyed all the forces inside”.

The town’s mayor said some aircraft had been set ablaze.

Most of the dead were soldiers of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), an alliance in the east of the country which does not recognise the government in the capital, Tripoli. That force has been in control of the airbase since December.

Its spokesman gave the new death toll of 140.

“The soldiers were returning from a military parade. They weren’t armed. Most of them were executed,” he said.

The UN’s envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, said he was “outraged” by reports of summary executions. …

The attack breached an informal truce between the rival forces that was reached earlier this month when the LNA’s commander, General Khalifa Haftar, met the [Tripoli] Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Anti-Libyan refugee plan stopped Dutch government coalition formation?

This video says about itself:

24 January 2017

Shocking torture of Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants in Libyan prison.

Dutch NOS TV reports today about talks about forming a new coalition government.

To form a government with a majority in parliament, because of recent general election results in the Netherlands there needs to be a coalition of at least four political parties.

Two months ago, four parties started negotiating about forming such a coalition government: the VVD (pro-Big Business); CDA (Christian conservatives); D66 (centrist) and GroenLinks (GL; Green Left).

This week, these negotiations failed. The parties involved were secretive why. They only said there was disagreement about immigration. VVD and CDA wanted to make immigration policies harsher; D66 and GroenLinks not.

What exactly in immigration policy led to the break up of the negotiations? NOS TV today claims it was about a possible European Union deal with Libya (and other dictatorially ruled African countries) to send refugees back. See also here.

The model for such an agreement would be the dodgy anti-refugee deal between the European Union and the Erdogan regime in Turkey. After the European Union sends refugees back to Turkey, the Turkish government sends refugees, forced back by the European Union, further to the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, wherever the refugees fled from.

European Union boss Juncker wants such an anti-refugee deal with Libya. In the coalition negotiations, according to the NOS, VVD and CDA said that the new Dutch government should agree with that. GroenLinks and D66 thought that might conflict with international treaties, signed by the Netherlands, about refugees’ rights.

The deal with Turkey is still just acceptable under international law, according to GroenLinks,

Really, GroenLinks? Jurists deny that.

because Turkey can be regarded as a safe country

Really, GroenLinks? Courts of justice, and the Obama administration in the USA deny that.

But that is not the case for Libya and other North African countries.

Indeed, GroenLinks. There are at least three governments in Libya, killing each other’s fighters and many civilians. With whom in Libya would an anti-refugee deal be?

D66 is said to have agreed with GL on this point, but they did not want it to cause a break [with CDA and VVD].

So, probably, there will now be more negotiations, between VVD, CDA, D66 and another fourth party.

Some sources of the NOS news item say the Libya deal was not the only issue between the four negotiating parties. There were also other points, on immigration and on other issues.

GL had electoral reasons not to give in to the hard-line anti-refugee policies of VVD and CDA. A few years ago, when they were an opposition party, they helped the then VVD-CDA minority coalition government to a parliamentary majority to send Dutch soldiers to the Afghan war. Many GroenLinks voters did not like that militarism. GroenLinks lost many votes and MPs at the next election.

Later, the social democrat PvdA party became the junior partner in a coalition government with the VVD (which at the moment is still the post-election caretaker government). So many leftist voters became so sick of the PvdA ministers enabling VVD austerity and militarism policies that the recent elections were catastrophic for the PvdA: from 38 to 9 MPS.

If GroenLinks would have joined now the proposed four party coalition, agreeing with the Libyan anti-refugee deal and other right-wing policies, then the next elections would probably have been very catastrophic for GL.

European Union-financed Libyans endanger refugees, rescuers

This 10 May 2017 video is called Libyan Coast Guard puts refugees and rescuers in danger.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

“They brought the people on board without life jackets. That is extremely dangerous. What happens there is unacceptable.”

Captain Ruben Lampart

He has no good word for the action of the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean. Ruben Lampart is the captain of Sea Watch lifeboat that was almost collided on purpose by Libyans yesterday. “Those people have seriously endangered us and themselves, and we’re lucky we’re still alive.”

The coast guard attacked to intercept a boat with migrants. According to a spokesman [of one of many governments in Libya], the Libyans were bothered during their work by Sea Watch. “They wanted to bring the migrants to Italy because Libya would not be safe.”

Dear Mr Spokesman of one of the various governments in the bloody civil war in Libya: Libya IS not safe. Ever since NATO started its ‘humanitarian’ regime change war in 2011, Libya became a country of massive bloodshed, torture, ruined healthcare, and the worst child abuse in the world.

The Libyan mission is supported by the European Union with money, equipment and training. At an EU summit in early February, the member states agreed to work closely with the Libyans …

The precedent was the EU-Turkey [anti-refugee] deal … The problem for the EU is that there is big chaos in Libya, which still enables migrants to travel to Italy. There are three governments fighting for power, the EU recognizes one of these. …

To make it even more problematic: the Libyans turn out not to have a strategy to curb the migrant stream. EU officials told Reuters news agency that at the end of last month. …

More than 1150 people drowned or went missing [in the first four months of 2017].

The approximately 500 people aboard the ship intercepted yesterday were mostly from Morocco and Bangladesh. “The latter are a completely new group of migrants that originated in Libya,” says [NOS] correspondent Zoutberg. “The Bengalis are now the third most numerous category of migrants who try to cross.”

Zoutberg makes it look as if Moroccans and Bangladeshis now suddenly appear out of nowhere in Libya. However, before the NATO war started in 2011, Libya was the richest country in Africa. That attracted many immigrant workers: eg, from Morocco and other North African countries, European countries like Croatia, from sub-Saharan Africa, and Bangladesh. When the war started, racist and xenophobic propaganda by NATO’s Libyan allies depicted immigrant workers as supposedly ‘Gaddafi regime mercenaries’. That led to torture and other violence against them. Ever since, these immigrant workers try to flee NATO’s ‘new’ Libya.

The group has been taken to the naval base in Tripoli by the coast guard. According to Sea Watch, the entire operation was illegal because the migrants had to be brought to a safe port from international waters. Libya can not provide safety, the rescuers say. They want the EU to change its migration policy in the Mediterranean.

NATO’s ‘new’ Libya, world’s worst child abuse

This 30 October 2011 video is called Jean Bricmont: The 3 victims of the lie of the humanitarian war in Libya.

From the BBC today:

Libya exposed as an epicentre for migrant child abuse

By Paul Adams, BBC News

The United Nations has warned that large numbers of children are still risking their lives to make the dangerous journey from Libya to Italy.

Unicef says almost 26,000 children – most of them unaccompanied – crossed the Mediterranean last year.

In its new report, Unicef says many children suffer from violence and sexual abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

But they rarely report their abuse, for fear of arrest and deportation.

The agency also says there is a lack of food, water and medical care in Libya’s detention centres.

The plight of children, many of them unaccompanied by parents, has become a tragically familiar part of the wider story of mass migration over the past two years.

But while much has been said about the extreme dangers faced at sea, the privations experienced on land, especially in Libya, are less familiar.

Unicef’s latest report, A Deadly Journey for Children, documents – in sometimes horrific detail – stories of slavery, violence and sexual abuse experienced by huge numbers of vulnerable children making their perilous way to Italy.

“What really shocked Unicef staff and me… is what happens to them [children] on this route,” says Justin Forsyth, the organisation’s deputy executive director. “Many of these children have been brutalised, raped, killed on this route.”

Girls such as nine-year-old Kamis, who set off with her mother from their home in Nigeria. After a desert crossing in which a man died, followed by a dramatic rescue at sea, they found themselves held at a detention centre in the Libyan town of Sabratha.

I was in Sabratha when that torture jail was still not there, only the ancient Roman theatre and other archaeological buildings; before NATO’s ‘humanitarian’ war on Libya. I cry.

“They used to beat us every day,” Kamis told the researchers. “There was no water there either. That place was very sad. There’s nothing there.”

Much of the violence is gratuitous, and much of it is sexual.

“Nearly half the women and children interviewed had experienced sexual abuse during migration,” the report says. “Often multiple times and in multiple locations.”

Borders, it seems, are particularly dangerous.

“Sexual violence was widespread and systemic at crossings and checkpoints,” says the report.

Many of the assailants are in uniform. This is said to be just one reason why those who suffer abuse are reluctant to report their experiences.

And Libya, as the funnel through which so many journeys pass, has earned itself a shocking reputation as the epicentre of abuse.

“Approximately one third [of those interviewed] indicated they had been abused in Libya,” the report says. “A large majority of these children did not answer when asked who had abused them.”

So commonplace are stories of rape and sexual enslavement that some women embarking on the journey take precautions, such as getting contraceptive injections and carrying emergency protection with them.

The report maps 34 known detention centres in Libya, three of them deep in the country’s desert interior.

Most are run by the government’s

Which government? There are several governments in Libya fighting each other.

Department for Combating Illegal Migration. But Unicef says that armed groups also hold migrants in an unknown number of unofficial camps.

“The detention centres run by militias, we’re much more worried about,” says Mr Forsyth. “That’s where a lot of abuse is happening and we have very, very limited access.”

In 2016, more than 180,000 migrants crossed from Libya to Italy. According to the UN, almost 26,000 of these were children, most of them unaccompanied. The number of unaccompanied children appears to be soaring.

“It’s a combination of factors,” says Mr Forsyth. “The situation in places like Eritrea and northern Nigeria is very bad. Also in the Gambia recently.”

‘I wanted to cross the sea’

Politics aside, poverty and the promise of a better life remain key drivers.

“I wanted to cross the sea,” 14-year-old Issaa told researchers. “Look for work, work hard to earn a bit of money to help my five brothers at home.”

But two and a half years after leaving home in Niger, Issaa was found living alone in a Libyan detention centre.

“My father collected money for my journey, he wished me luck and then let me go.”

The migrants are, of course, heavily dependent on smugglers to get them through the desert and across the sea.

A recent case when dozens bodies were found washed up on the shore near the western city Zawiya shows that this remains extremely hazardous.

But smuggling is all-too often associated with human trafficking. Victims accept migration packages from criminal gangs, only to find themselves forced into prostitution to repay their debts.

Libya is a major transit hub for women being trafficked to Europe for sex,” the report says.

Libya’s continuing political turmoil makes it extraordinarily difficult to tackle a phenomenon, which the report says has spiralled out of control.

But Unicef is urging Libya, its neighbours and regional organisations to do more to protect children.

A regional initiative, it says, would include improved birth registration, the prevention of trafficking, safe and legal pathways for children fleeing armed conflict and, where appropriate, family reunification.

“Whether they’re migrants or refugees, let’s treat them like children,” says Mr Forsyth. “It’s a reflection of our humanity, our values, how we respond to this crisis.”