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Libya: Hundreds detained in renewed crackdown on migrants and refugees

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The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are alarmed by the detention of more than 600 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in front of the former Community Day Centre in Tripoli early this morning.

The centre used to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and asylum seekers before it was permanently closed in December.

Dax Roque, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Libya Country Director, said:

“We are alarmed by the detention of hundreds of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, including women and children, that were camped out in front of the former Community Day Centre in Tripoli. Witnesses have told us they were met with violence this morning and that makeshift tents were burnt down. This is the culmination of a disastrous situation that has deteriorated over the last few months. Since the mass detention of thousands of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in October of last year, the situation for this population in Libya has only got worse.”

Thomas Garofalo, the International Rescue Committee's Country Director, said:

“Our medical teams have been supporting those injured during this morning’s arrests, including one person suffering from a gunshot wound. We understand that hundreds of people, including many women and children, have now been sent onwards to detention centres where conditions are often already dire. As we enter a new year, the events unfolding should act as yet another reminder that the current situation for migrants and refugees in Libya is untenable and requires a new approach that respects the rights of people on the move."

The humanitarian agencies call on the Libyan authorities to immediately release those detained – particularly women, children, and refugees - and protect them from further violence. They also urge the international community to immediately expand resettlement and other safe and regular pathways for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants who wish to leave Libya.

For media requests:

Ahmed Bayram, Media Adviser for NRC, Amman, ahmed.bayram@nrc.no, phone +962 7 9016 0147