from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – LIBYAN authorities have detained 200 children intercepted while trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea this year.
This has raised concern among humanitarian organisations who lamented that the children were now exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the North African country’s overcrowded detention centres.
A majority of those children are Eritrean, Somalian and Sudanese, aged between 12 and 15 years.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said instead of detaining the minors and exposing them to violence and abuse, authorities must have provided them with psychosocial care and support.
“Absolutely no one should be detained in Libya’s detention centres – least of all a child,” Tom Garofalo, the International Rescue Committee’s director in Libya, said.
He said since March this year, IRC has provided emergency medical care to over 3 800 people who were seeking safety in Europe but were brought back to Libya from sea.
“Many are in a terrible condition when they are returned. Some have been at sea for weeks. Some have seen fellow passengers die before their eyes.”
Libya is the main gateway to Europe for African migrants seeking improved economic opportunities.
It is beset by a civil war that peaked in April last year.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) this week disclosed that 106 civilians have been killed and 252 injured since the beginning of the year.
Some 52 children, mostly boys, have either been killed or injured.
Libya has been in relentless conflict since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and murdered in 2011.
– CAJ News