LIBYA (OBSERVATORY) – The situation of migrants, already suffering from severe violations in Libya, has worsened since a European-backed campaign to prevent boat departures sharply reduced transit rates to Italy, representatives of the Sudanese and Eritrean communities said.
This was reported by Reuters.
Volunteers working with immigrant groups in Tripoli said armed groups trying to get more money from them through torture were holding them for longer periods.
The pace of departure from Libya accelerated in 2014 as armed conflict spread, with more than 600,000 people crossing the Mediterranean in the last four years.
But the number of migrants to Italy, most of whom come from sub-Saharan Africa, has seen a sharp decline since July when a large human trafficking group in the coastal city of Sabratha signed an agreement to stop the boat leaving under pressure from Italy and was forced to withdraw during clashes.
The Libyan Coast Guard, backed by the European Union, also repatriated more migrants to Libya after intercepting them at sea.
This year, according to Interior Ministry figures, only about 6,400 migrants have crossed from Libya to Italy so far, down more than 80 percent from the same period last year.
Osman, a representative of the Sudanese community in Tripoli, said the situation for those inside Libya was “unlikely”.
“Before that, they could have taken the money from them and then left them (immigrants). Now they take the money and then torture them with fire and electricity. ”
“Torture has increased. The sea road is closed … If you can not travel, there is more torture. ”
Khadija, an Eritrean woman who lives in Tripoli and has volunteered to help African migrants, said that after the smugglers lost the safe camps on the coast where they were holding migrants before they were sent to the sea, they started their activities off the coast, especially in the desert areas around the town of Bani Walid. Kilometers south-east of Tripoli.
Like Uthman, Khadija asked for her first name. The two were speaking at a community service center in Tripoli run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“They are gangs and (migrants) are handing them over to each other,” Khadija said. I take my share and then receive the immigrant and take your share and so on, “adding that they are asking for larger amounts than before.
It was largely controlled by smugglers from Libya and East Africa. Pictures or videos of torture are sent to families of migrants to pressure them to transfer money from their country.
Since the clashes in Sabratha in September, IOM has repatriated many migrants who have been held in government centers.
UNHCR has also begun resettling small numbers of refugees and evacuating others through Niger, although evacuation has been suspended across Niger due to delays in resettlement in European countries.
But hundreds of thousands of other migrants are openly living in Libya or are being held by smuggling networks or forced labor in normally poor conditions.
Aid workers say the health of migrants passing through Bani Walid has deteriorated, including malnutrition and tuberculosis.
In Beni Waleed, there is a shelter that receives migrants who have been weakened or abused to the point where smugglers leave them. The shelter has received more than 3,000 immigrants since it was founded 14 months ago.
On Sunday, some 12 sub-Saharan African migrants sat in the courtyard and some were seriously injured either because of their trips or as a result of abuse by smugglers.
Yusuf, 24, from Senegal, lives in the shelter. He said he was held for three months in a secret prison outside Bani Walid before his parents could collect $ 1,500 for his release.
“We were beaten and electrocuted, we had nothing to eat,” Yusuf said. “People died there.”