TRIPOLI, October 8 (Reuters) – At least six migrants were shot dead in a detention center in Tripoli on Friday, the head of the Libyan mission of the United Nations migration agency said.
Overcrowding has sparked chaos in the center of Ghot Shaal, with people sleeping in the open and various security forces present, said Federico Soda, head of the Libyan mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“The shooting started,” he said, adding that at least six people had been killed.
Libyan security forces cracked down on migrants, refugees and asylum seekers over the past week, detaining more than 5,000.
There are hundreds of thousands of migrants in Libya, some seeking to travel to Europe and others coming to work in the major oil exporter.
They regularly face violence in a country that has seen little peace for a decade, with many held in detention centers which, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, are overcrowded and unhealthy, and where Amnesty International said on Friday that they were victims of torture and sexual abuse.
The Libyan government of national unity was not immediately available for comment.
The country has been in crisis since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and much of it is controlled on the ground by local armed forces that operate independently of the government.
Numerous videos posted to social media on Friday, which Reuters could not immediately authenticate, showed dozens of people rushing through a breach in a fence and more people walking through the streets of Tripoli.
Two residents said they saw large numbers of migrants running through the streets of this neighborhood.
Soda said Tripoli security forces arrested at least 900 migrants by Friday, likely many of those who fled the detention center.
A Reuters reporter saw dozens of migrants sitting on the ground surrounded by guards and said there was a very strong security presence around the area and there had been sporadic gunfire sounds.
UNHCR said earlier on Friday it was increasingly alarmed by the plight of migrants and refugees in Libya after more than 5,000 people were arrested in the recent crackdown.
“The raids, which also involved the demolition of many unfinished buildings and makeshift homes, created widespread panic and fear among asylum seekers and refugees in the capital,” he said in a report. communicated.
On Monday, UN investigators said the abuses against migrants and refugees in Libya were “on a large scale … with a high level of organization and with the encouragement of the state … suggesting crimes against it. humanity ”.
Reporting by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli, Angus McDowall in Tunis and the Reuters Libya press room Editing by Marguerita Choy and John Stonestreet
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