The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the Libyan authorities estimated that there are about 6000 immigrants and refugees detained by smugglers in the country.
According to the UNCHR’s website, the total number of refugees and migrants held in Sabratha, therefore, reached 20,500, including those in official detention centers.
For over a week, UNHCR teams have been working around the clock to meet the urgent needs of over 14,500 migrants and refugees who were being held captive by smugglers in different locations, including farms, houses, and warehouses in and around the coastal city of Sabratha in Libya. The refugees and migrants were taken to a hangar in the Dahman area in Sabratha that has been serving as an assembly point since the onset of the crisis. From there, refugees and migrants are being transferred by authorities to official detention centers where humanitarian agencies are providing lifesaving assistance.
The UNHCR added that its teams have been working on identifying refugees and they continue to advocate for their release.
In some locations, UNHCR has provided tents that are being used as makeshift hospitals where UNHCR doctors are providing medical assistance.
UNHCR colleagues on the front lines have also described a picture of human suffering and abuse on a shocking scale. Amongst the refugees and migrants who suffered abuse at the hands of smugglers, there are pregnant women and new born babies. Hundreds of people were discovered with no clothes or shoes. Scores of them are in need of urgent medical care, with some suffering from bullet wounds and other visible signs of abuse. Refugees and migrants who were rescued from the smugglers are visibly traumatized. Most of them say that they were subjected to numerous human rights abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, forced labor and sexual exploitation, the UN agency wrote on its website.
In the meantime, the municipality of Sabratha transferred over 8500 illegal immigrants of different nationalities to Tripoli and Gharyan illegal immigrants’ detention centers.
On Facebook, the municipality added last Sunday that the immigrants were held in detention centers run by human traffickers in different areas in Sabratha.
It also added that the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority received strong support from the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) as well as the Libyan Red Crescent in Sabratha, in addition to other organizations in different fields.