Libya: Situation desperate for 150 migrants in Zintan detention centre

Asylum seekers and refugees in limbo must be evacuated and transferred to Tripoli as planned

150 registered asylum seekers and refugees are currently trapped in limbo in a detention centre in Zintan, Libya, after promises from local authorities and UN agencies that they would shortly be released and transferred to Tripoli over a month ago have failed to materialise. International medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) are calling on Libyan authorities and UN agencies to follow through on their commitment made to the people held in Dahr el Jebel detention centre.

Desperate situation

Those currently in the detention centre are registered asylum seekers and refugees. They fled their home countries and are unable to return for fear of violence or persecution. Many have been detained in several facilities across Libya for the last two years and have been through horrific experiences of being held captive and tortured by traffickers.

This long period of waiting for transfer to Tripoli has had a direct and immediate impact on our patients, with MSF teams observing increased stress levels during medical consultations.

Ahead of what was reported as the imminent closure of the detention centre, some of the makeshift shelters in which refugees used to sleep in the prison yards were dismantled, making terrible living conditions even worse. MSF teams have been providing medical consultations and distributed winter clothing to support those trapped. 

Failed policies

People are increasingly desperate and attempting to escape the detention centre, at risk of falling into the hands of trafficking and smuggling networks. The failed evacuation and transportation of people to Tripoli is only feeding into the trafficking and smuggling networks which current migration policies seek to combat. Meanwhile, only 629 asylum seekers were evacuated through UN evacuation mechanism outside Libya this year.

MSF reiterates its call that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants subjected to arbitrary detention across Libya must be released and receive protection and assistance. Those currently stuck in Zintan must be evacuated and transferred to Tripoli.


About MSF UK

This is the press room for MSF UK - the UK office of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

MSF UK's privacy notice is available here.

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