Libya: Over 600 migrants arrested after speaking out for their rights

Migrants are held in a Libyan detention center. Photo taken in 2018.

Libya 2018 © Sara Creta/MSF

January 11, 2022—Following the mass arrests yesterday of more than 600 migrants in Tripoli, Libya, who were peacefully demonstrating for relocation, protection, and evacuation from Libya, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued the following statements:

Gabriele Ganci, MSF head of mission for Libya, said:

"More than 600 migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, peacefully demonstrating for relocation, protection, and evacuation from Libya were arrested and moved to Ain Zara detention center in the southern part of Tripoli, where hundreds of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are already detained in overcrowded cells and deprived living conditions. 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 or trauma caused by the forced arrests. Among them there were people who had been beaten and separated from their children during the raids."

Ellen van der Velden, MSF operations manager, said:

"Not only does this once again prove how migrants are subject to random and arbitrary detention—something that applies to virtually all migrants currently in Libya—but these people are additionally detained for speaking up for basic protection, safety, and treatment in line with humanitarian law. Once again, we call on the Libyan authorities to halt the mass arrests. We also urge the same authorities to find dignified alternatives to detention, and we call on the EU to stop supporting the perpetration of an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya."

For the last two months, MSF teams in Tripoli have carried out mobile clinics on a weekly basis in Ain Zara detention center, providing basic health care and mental health consultations to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. On January 10, MSF teams were able to provide medical care to 68 detained people—seven of whom were referred to hospitals for further medical care—and organized group therapy sessions for 190 patients inside the detention center. MSF has been working in detention centers in Libya since 2016, providing basic health care and psychosocial support. MSF teams also identify vulnerable people and refer patients requiring specialized care to hospitals. In addition, MSF treats people who are intercepted at sea and treats tuberculosis patients in the city of Tripoli.