UK Demands Immediate Closure of Migrant Detention Centres Near Frontlines – Al Marsad

British Ambassador to Libya, Martin Reynolds, calls for immediate closure of all migrant detention centres that are located near frontlines. Ambassador Reynolds posted a tweet in which he stressed that all civilians, including migrants, should be evacuated to safety.

[Libya, 3 July 2019] – The British Ambassador to Libya, Martin Reynolds, posted a tweet in his official page where stressed that all civilians, including migrants, should be evacuated to safety. Ambassador Reynolds called for immediate closure of all migrant detention centres that are located near frontlines.

Call for an Inquiry on the Attack

The call comes after an attack on a migrant detention centre on Tuesday night killed over 33 migrants and injured over 80. The Government of National Accord (GNA) was quick to blame the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Air Force for the airstrike, however the Operations Room of the LNA accused the militias allied with the Tripoli-based GNA of shelling the detention centre in Tajoura as a pretext for making affecting public opinion against the LNA after its Air Force carried out a precise strike on the militias ammunition stores in Tajoura.

The British Ambassador Reynolds wrote on Twitter that “escalation will simply add to the destruction of Libya”, calling on all parties to stop the fighting, and embark on a dialogue. It is noteworthy that the British stance is similar to the position of the Italian Foreign Ministry that asserted the need to transfer all migrants away from the front lines to safe places under the protection of the United Nations.

There were also statements today from UNSMIL condemning the airstrike along with statements by diplomats, international organisations and foreign press. UNSMIL stated: “UNSMIL strongly condemns the attack on a compound in Tajoura in which migrants were detained, which led to at least 44 deaths and more than 130 severe injuries. This is the second time this facility, hosting about 600 migrants, has been attacked.”

Libyan commentators called for an enquiry and urged international bodies to refrain from blaming any party until a proper investigation was conducted.

GNA Using Detention Centre as Ammunition Storage

Several commentators pointed out that GNA militias continue to stockpile and ammunitions close to detention centres precisely to avoid being targeted by the LNA. Vincent Cochetel, Special Envoy of the UNHCR, posted the following strongly tweet in his official page:

Several other experts also noted that fact that these migrants were actually captured by the Libyan Coast Guard, my criminals such as Al-Bija, and brought back to EU-funded detention centres such as the one in Tajoura. A recent US State Department report on trafficking in Libya noted, “During the reporting year, there were continued reports that criminal networks, militia groups, government officials, and private employers exploited migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in sex and labor trafficking.” [2019 Trafficking in Persons Report for Libya].

International Silence on Atrocities Committed by GNA Militias

The international outcry on the attack on the migrant detention centre comes amidst total silence on the massacre committed by GNA militias led by Usama al-Juwaili in Gharyan where over 40 LNA soldiers were rounded up and killed at the the city’s central hospital. UNSMIL has yet to issue a statement condemning the massacre. The German Ambassador to Libya, Oliver Owcza, who posted an insensitive message in his official page on Gharyan avoided any reference to the war crimes committed by the GNA militias. He called today for an international inquiry on the Tajoura attack yet failed again to call for a similar investigation into the war crime that took place at Gharyan Hospital.

Reports have also been coming in today of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) warplanes targeting civilian cars in Sidi al-Sayeh, south of Tripoli, injuring 3 young children who are now in critical condition. Horrific images of the attack have been circulating widely today in the Libyan press and social media, however there has been no statement from UNSMIL, international diplomats, organisations and the foreign press.

 

Further Resources:

GNA-aligned Misrata Aviation Academy Planes Bombard South of Tripoli Causing Civilian Casualties

Libyan Organization for Human Rights Condemns Summary Executions at Gharyan Hospital

War Crimes in Gharyan: Forensics Confirm Executions by GNA Militias at Gharyan Hospital