Statement by Yacoub El Hillo, Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, on the killing of migrants southwest of Tripoli

News and Press Release
Originally published


Tripoli, 29 May 2020 – I am shocked by the horrific reports about Wednesday’s shooting at a smuggling warehouse in Mezda killing 30 migrants and injuring 11 others.

Human trafficking and smuggling, which I condemn in the strongest possible way, constitute a grave violation of international human rights law and should not go unpunished. Authorities with influence on the ground in the area where this incident took place have the responsibility to ensure that human smugglers and traffickers are not allowed to continue with their inhuman and degrading acts. Such heinous and merciless crime against helpless individuals should be investigated immediately and those responsible must be brought to justice.

Holding centers run by these criminal networks, such as the one in Mezda, are prevalent in Libya and bear witness to the abuse, exploitation, extortion and violence against migrants. It is just one example of the many risks, migrants face in the country.

There are more than 654,000 migrants and refugees in Libya; many who face arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, forced labor, extortion and exploitation. In Libya, the continued arbitrary detention of thousands of migrants and refugees in both official centres and informal smuggler sites is a critical concern. It is deplorable to see the basic human rights of the migrants in Mezda were not respected, and that a lack of regard for their safety led to this senseless atrocity.

Safeguarding people's lives, respecting and protecting their human rights, and ensuring their wellbeing is a national responsibility and is the highest priority of the United Nations and wider humanitarian community. Those responsible for the attack must be held accountable. The impunity with which smugglers and traffickers operate in Libya must be brought to an immediate stop.


For more information, please contact:
Kasper Engborg, Acting Head of Office, OCHA Libya, email:

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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