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African migrants who fled battle zones in Libia gather at a detention center in Zawiya, west of Tripoli African migrants who fled battle zones in Libia gather at a detention center in Zawiya, west of Tripoli  (AFP or licensors)

Concern as Libya crossfire puts migrants in danger

The United Nations has expressed concern over the plight of thousands of migrants and refugees caught in the crossfire in Libya. This comes as Pope Francis' appeals for the evacuation of refugees and migrants from detention centers and for their safe passage through humanitarian corridors.

By Nathan Morley

General Khalifa Haftar and his rival government launched an offensive at the beginning of April to take control of the capital Tripoli.

The rebel-General is trying to snatch the city from the internationally backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Since his offensive began, Haftar has been accused of commanding forces which are responsible for killing and displacing civilians, wrecking property, utilising children for military duty, and using missiles to target urban populations.

The effects of this latest instability have been devastating on the war-weary population. The UN says that more than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

On top of that, the World Health Organization has estimated that over 270 people have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded in the clashes.

As well as for the obvious disruption to local life, the conflict has proved a terrifying ordeal for migrants and refugees at detention camps on the outskirts of Tripoli, which are near the front lines.

So far, 675 refugees have been moved from Qasr Ben Ghasheer detention centre to the Azzawia facility, but several thousand more remain exposed to danger.

Separately, air raids were carried out just before midnight on Saturday on Tripoli – it’s thought the raids may have been conducted by unmanned drones, controlled by Haftar’s forces.

Residents heard drones passing near the airport as well as several explosions.

Listen to the report by Nathan Morley
28 April 2019, 16:54