Carnage in a center for migrants in Libya, a ''predictable'' drama

July 3rd 2019

On July, the 2nd, at least 44 migrants were killed and a hundred were wounded in an aerial bombardment against a detention center in Tajoura, East of Tripoli. About 600 migrants lived in this detention center, mostly Eritreans and Sudanese.

The Tripoli-based national unity government (GNA) has accused Khalifa Haftar's rival forces. While pro-Haftar forces have denied accusing the GNA in return. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an "independent inquiry", but the emergency meeting held by the UN Security Council on July, the 3st, failed to reach a unanimous condemnation. Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said the "carnage" is likely to "constitute a war crime." Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, twitted "three key messages: migrants and refugees should NOT be detained, civilians should NOT be targets, Libya is NOT a safe place for a return of migrants.”

For its part, the European Union and several European states have asked for the opening of an investigation. The European Union (EU) has called the raid "absolutely unacceptable", considering that "those responsible must be held accountable".

According to the UN, there are 5,700 refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centers, whose 3,800 are vulnerable because of the ongoing fighting. No figures are available for those held in illegal centers in the hands of traffickers. According to humanitarian actors, this drama was "predictable". UN agencies and humanitarian organizations regularly point out their opposition to bringing migrants arrested at sea back into Libya where they are placed in "arbitrary detention" or at the mercy of militias in an even worse critical situation. This situation began with Marshal Haftar’s military offensive on April, the 4th. Since January, more than 2,300 people have been brought back and placed in detention centers, according to the UN.

At the end of May, ten international NGOs intervening in had urged the EU and its member states to "urgently review" their migration policies.