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Migrants at a detention centre in Zawlyah, 45 km west of Tripoli Migrants at a detention centre in Zawlyah, 45 km west of Tripoli  (AFP or licensors)

Libya mulls shutting migrant centres

The government in Libya is considering closing detention centres where thousands of migrants are being held.

By Nathan Morley

The UN-recognised government of national accord, known as the GNA, is mulling closing all migrant detention centres after an air-strike last week killed 53 people.

The air bombardment hit a detention centre in Tripoli housing about 120 refugees and migrants. The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Hafter is being blamed for the attack, but responsibility has not been verified.

To make matters worse, the UN said there were reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape.

The incident has appalled the international community and shone a light on the dreadful ordeal suffered by detained migrants. Over 5,000 migrants from Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and elsewhere are locked in dozens of detention facilities in the country. Most of the inmates were arrested by Libyan marine police whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Now, after considerable pressure, it is understood that plans are in motion to shut down the detention centres and release the refugees and migrants.

As it stands, the UN says that more than 3,800 people are being held in camps across Libya who are currently exposed to the fighting. The UN says they are trying to remove them from the areas of fighting around Tripoli, but 600 remain Tajoura camp.

Separately, the NGO-operated rescue ship, the Alan Kurdi, is on its way to Valetta after having been refused entry into Lampedusa by Italian authorities.

The captain of the ship said that his decision head for Malta was taken  after another vessel which entered port in Lampedusa was refused permission for its passengers to disembark.

Listen to the report by Nathan Morley
07 July 2019, 17:04