UNICEF Libya Flash Update 2 : Migrant raids and detention

14 October 2021


Following widespread security operations by Libyan authorities in Tripoli over the first week of October, more than 5,000 migrants, including at least 255 children and 751 women, were arrested and brought to detention centers managed by the Directorate of Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) of the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

On 08 October 2021, reported riots followed by a mass escape of hundreds of detainees from the Mabani detention center led to open shots being fired in the center, causing the death of 6 detainees and the injuring of another 24. Up to 150 escapees were reportedly re-arrested and detained, with no women and children being re-arrested. Prior to the escape, the center hosted over 5,000 people - four times its official capacity - including an estimated 300 women and at least 100 children, of whom 30 were infants.

On 10 October 2021, the government transferred the remaining migrants from the Mabani detention center to other locations. Information available indicates that most transfers were to the Ain Zara detention center in Tripoli.
Approximately 1,772 people are currently detained in the center, including an estimated 106 women and 43 children. Five of the women are pregnant.

Migrants and refugees in Libya, especially children, are highly vulnerable to protection risks, including arbitrary detention and human rights violations. Inside detention centres run by the DCIM, children often share overcrowded cells with adults, exposing them to protection risks such as violence, ill-treatment, forced labour, acute malnutrition, disease infection, and the lack of access to basic services. Currently, there are an estimated 3,974 people in detention centers in Tripoli, including 206 children and 688 women.

More than 1,000 migrant and refugee children in Libya out of an estimated 597,611 migrants1 are unaccompanied.
Figures show that 25,285 migrants attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea between January and September 2021, surpassing the total number of migrants intercepted in entire 2020. Since the beginning of the year, 917 children (283 girls, 634 boys) were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, where most of them were subject to arbitrary detention.

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