NEMA Receives 173 Nigerian Returnees From Libya

A total number of 173 stranded Nigerians on Tuesday morning returned from Libya and they were received by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The returnees who arrived in the country on two different flights were received by the NEMA coordinator, Lagos territorial office, Alhaji Idris Abubakar Muhammed at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International airport, Ikeja.

Profiling of the returnees indicated that they were 106 adult males, 52 adult females, four female children, two male children, four female infants, and five male infants.

Twenty-one of the returnees had medical issues.

One of the returnees, Miss Aishat Areni narrated how she was lured by a trafficker with a promise of travelling to New York City, USA to practice catering.

Contrary to the promise, Areni said on arrival in Libya, she was forced into domestic labour and prostitution.

The returnee advised those planning to travel to Libya that it’s a dangerous country, where kidnapping, murder, robbery and bombings are rife.

Three Children Killed In Libya Air Strike

Libyans check the site of an air strike in which three children were killed and others wounded on the southern outskirts of the capital Tripoli on October 14, 2019./AFP

 

At least three children were killed and eight civilians wounded Monday in an airstrike on a residential neighbourhood near the Libyan capital, the health ministry said.

Spokesman Lamine al-Hachemi said another child was seriously wounded and the parents of the dead children were also injured in the airstrike that hit their home in Al-Fernaj, a suburb southeast of Tripoli.

Five other civilians were wounded in the attack.

Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) accused forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar of launching the “criminal” airstrike.

“This criminal act carried out by the aircraft of the war criminal (Haftar), is the latest in a series of attacks that have targeted airports, public and private buildings and… terrorised civilians,” it said on Facebook.

Ahmad al-Mismari, the spokesman for pro-Haftar forces who control eastern Libya, said an airstrike was carried out against “a camp of the intelligence services in Al-Fernaj” but he denied that a house or civilians were targeted.

Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli, seat of the GNA, in April but since then frontlines have barely shifted.

The GNA urged the international community to take a “firm and dissuasive position” against Haftar and called on the UN mission in Libya to step in and protect civilians in line with international resolutions.

US Kills 17 Suspected IS Jihadists In Libya Strike

 

 

The US military command for Africa announced Friday it killed 17 suspected Islamic State group jihadists in southern Libya, in the third such strike in a week.

“At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed 17 terrorists” on Thursday, Africom said in a statement.

It said its anti-IS campaign in Libya was “ongoing” and that strikes were being conducted “in coordination” with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Africom “continues to support diplomatic efforts to stabilise the political situation in Libya in order to maintain our common focus on disrupting terrorist organisations that threaten regional stability”, the statement said.

The previous two air strikes were carried out on September 19 and 24 near Murzuq, an oasis town some 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Tripoli, killing eight and 11 IS “terrorists” respectively, according to Africom.

Libya’s desert south lies outside the control of the GNA and of rival forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar, even though the latter allege to have a presence there.

Since the start of an anti-GNA offensive launched by Haftar on April 4 to take Tripoli, analysts have warned of a security vacuum that could benefit IS in other parts of the country.

Rwanda Welcomes First Group Of African Refugees From Libya

This handout picture from Rwanda’s Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA) taken on September 26, 2019, shows Rwanda’s UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, senior protection officer Zahra Mirghani (C) welcoming the first arrival of 66 refugees and asylum seekers from Libya at the Kigali international airport in Kigali, Rwanda. PHOTO:CYRIL NDEGEYA / RWANDA’S MINISTRY OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (MINEMA) / AFP

A group of 66 African refugees and asylum-seekers have arrived in Kigali from Libya, the UN said, the first in what could be thousands of people being helped to flee the conflict-torn country.

The move follows a pledge by President Paul Kagame in 2017 to offer a “home” to Africans after reports emerged of the torture, sexual violence and forced labour they suffer in Libya.

Earlier this month, Rwanda signed a deal with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR agreeing to take in African refugees and asylum-seekers stranded in Libya.

The Rwandan government has said it is prepared to accommodate as many as 30,000 evacuees, although the plan is for the programme to unfold in batches of 500 to prevent the country of 12 million from feeling overwhelmed.

“Just landed!” the United Nations refugee agency wrote on its Twitter account as the group landed in the Rwandan capital late Thursday.

The youngest passenger was a two-month-old girl born in Libya to Somali parents.

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva Friday that 26 of the evacuees were unaccompanied children.

“One evacuee had not been outside a detention centre for more than four years. All evacuees were either Sudanese, Somali or Eritrean,” he said.

A UN official told AFP Wednesday that a subsequent flight carrying 125 people was planned for “between 10-12 October”.

They will be housed in a transit centre in Rwanda before being resettled elsewhere unless they agree to return to their home countries.

“UNHCR will provide persons evacuated from Libya with shelter, education, food items, basic hygiene products and health care services,” Olivier Kayumba Rugina, permanent secretary at the ministry of emergency management, told AFP.

The new arrivals will be resettled at the Gashora Refugee Transit Centre in Bugesera District, approximately 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Kigali.

The facility was established in 2015 to host Burundians, about 30,000 of whom have transited the country to flee political violence in their homeland.

Asylum-seeker status

Baloch said a psychologist, counsellors and other health professionals to aid those “who survived torture, sexual violence and human rights abuses during their time in Libya.”

“The entire group has been granted asylum-seeker status, pending an assessment of their refugee claim by UNHCR,” he said.

In the chaos that followed the fall and killing of former dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 uprising, Libya became a key transit point for sub-Saharan African migrants seeking to embark on dangerous journeys to Europe.

The UN says some 42,000 refugees are currently in Libya.

Kagame first offered to take in Africans stuck in Libya after a CNN report showed what appeared to be a slave market there.

The issue took on new urgency in July when more than 40 people were killed in an airstrike on a migrant detention centre in the Libyan town of Tajoura.

The UN has been criticised for its handling of a transit mechanism for evacuees from Libya established in 2017 on the other side of the continent, in Niger.

The facilities there have struggled with overcrowding and the slow pace of resettlement.

But UN and Rwandan officials say they have learned from Niger’s experience.

While the influx of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers to Europe has become a political flashpoint, countries in East Africa are often praised for their openness to those displaced by conflict in the region.

Uganda is host to around 800,000 refugees from war-torn South Sudan while countries in the region host hundreds of thousands of refugees from Burundi, Somalia and elsewhere.

At the end of 2018 the region hosted over four million refugees and asylum-seekers, according to the UNHCR.

AFP

Three Suspects Arrested For Kidnapping, Torturing Migrants

A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on June 27, 2017. PHOTO: Taha JAWASHI / AFP

 

Italian police arrested three people on Monday accused of the kidnap, torture and trafficking of migrants hoping to set sail from Libya to Europe.

Their accusers described a catalogue of abuse including the systematic rape of women and the murder of some migrants.

A 27-year old man from Guinea and two Egyptians, aged 24 and 26, were taken into custody in a detention centre in Messina, Sicily, after police gathered testimony against them from other migrants.

The arrested men had crossed the Mediterranean themselves, landing in Lampedusa before being transferred to Sicily.

Witnesses said the three ran a prisoners’ camp in a former military base in Zawyia in Libya, where those ready to attempt the perilous sea crossing were forcibly held until they could pay a ransom.

Those interviewed said they had been “beaten with sticks, rifle butts, rubber pipes, whipped or given electric shocks”, and had seen other prisoners die, police said.

They had also been refused water or medical attention for their wounds or for diseases contracted in the camp, they said.

Anyone unable to pay up was passed on to other traffickers “for sexual and/or work exploitation”, or was killed.

The testimonies were gathered from migrants spread in reception centres across Sicily and on the island of Lampedusa.

“All the women who were with us… were systematically and repeatedly raped,” one witness was quoted as saying.

“They gave us seawater to drink and, sometimes, hard bread to eat. We men were beaten to get our relatives to pay sums of money in exchange for our release,” he said.

“I saw the organisers shoot two migrants who had tried to escape”.

 ‘Shot for bread’

Another said he was “whipped by electrical wires. Other times I was beaten, even around the head”.

One survivor described how the electric shocks “made you fall to the ground unconscious”, adding that he had “personally witnessed many murders by electric shock”.

Some migrants died of hunger, according to another cited witness, who described seeing a jailer “shoot a Nigerian in the legs for having taken a piece of bread”.

Libya, despite being wracked by chaos and conflict since the 2011 uprising that killed the dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has remained a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

According to figures from the International Organization for Migration in July, at least 5,200 people are currently trapped in official detention centres in Libya, often in appalling conditions.

There are no figures for the number of people held in illegal centres run by human traffickers, who brutally torture them to try to extort money from their families.

Italy’s tough line on migrants arriving from North Africa, and European Union cooperation with the Libyan coastguard, has seen some of those attempting the crossing picked up at sea and returned to the chaos-wracked country.

The UN and aid groups have warned those returned face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centres.

AFP

Libya Airport Hit By Drone, Rocket Fire

 

 

An airport near the Libyan capital was hit by a new round of rocket fire and air strikes, the UN-recognised government said Saturday, two weeks after it was closed due to repeated attacks.

The Government of National Accord accused forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind Saturday’s attacks on Mitiga airport, but did not report any casualties.

An air strike by “Emirati drones” hit the airport early Saturday morning, followed by “Grad rockets launched by (pro-Haftar) militia”, the GNA said on Facebook.

READ ALSO: Trump Condemns Drone Attacks In Call With Saudi Crown Prince

The former military airbase had been Tripoli’s sole functioning airport until a rocket attack on September 1 wounded four civilians including three pilgrims returning from Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a string of similar incidents.

Authorities responded by diverting flights to Misrata, 200 kilometres (120 miles) to the east, until further notice.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army has been battling since early April to seize the capital from pro-GNA forces.

The two sides have since become embroiled in a stalemate in the capital’s southern outskirts.

Haftar’s forces, which accuse the GNA of using Mitiga for military purposes, say they are targeting “Turkish drones” being launched from the airport to attack their troops in southern Tripoli.

The GNA’s interior ministry has identified at least 11 attacks on Mitiga since June 21, not including Saturday’s incident.

The Tripoli-based GNA called Saturday’s attack a “desperate attempt” at revenge for losses sustained the previous day.

Haftar’s forces announced overnight that two senior commanders of a pro-LNA armed group from the town of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli, had been killed in an air strike south of the capital.

Since April, the fighting around Tripoli has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.

Rocket Fire Injures Four In Libyan Airport

 

Rocket fire by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar against the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport wounded four civilians overnight, the UN-recognised government said on Sunday.

The strikes coincided with the arrival of a Libyan plane inbound from the Saudi Arabia, which was carrying pilgrims on their way back from Mecca.

Three pilgrims, including a woman, were among four civilians wounded, said Wedad Abu Niran, a spokesman for the UN-recognised Government of National Accord’s health ministry.

READ ALSO: Ebola Death Toll Crosses 2,000 DR Congo Ahead Of UN chief’s Visit

Airport director Lotfi al-Tabib said Mitiga’s runway was damaged and a Libyan Airlines plane was hit by shrapnel, putting it out of service.

Flights have been suspended “until further notice”, Tabib added.

The Tripoli-based GNA controls the former military airbase east of the city, which has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

In a statement, the GNA blamed what it called a “terrorist attack” on forces of Haftar and urged the international community to assume “its responsibilities concerning the protection of civilians”.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 4 to conquer Tripoli.

The two sides have since been embroiled in a stalemate on the capital’s southern outskirts and Haftar’s forces have allegedly repeatedly targeted Mitiga, accusing the GNA of using it for “military ends”.

A similar strike on Mitiga killed a guard and wounded several security agents on August 15.

Last week, the airport closed temporarily due to a rocket strike that hit as two planes were arriving, though no causalities were reported.

Haftar’s forces say they are targeting “Turkish drones” that they claim take off from the airport to conduct strikes on their troops in the south of Tripoli.

The UN mission in Libya said it is concerned by the “growing frequency” of these attacks, which have come close to hitting civilian aircraft.

Since April, fighting between GNA and Haftar forces has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

AFP

Five Migrants Dead, 20 Missing As Boat Sinks Off Libya

 

The bodies of five migrants including a Moroccan child were recovered off Libya’s coast Tuesday while up to 20 others were missing after a Europe-bound boat sank, the navy said.

Navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem told reporters 65 migrants, mostly from Sudan, were rescued off Khoms, a town 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of Tripoli.

The vessel was believed to have been carrying up to 90 people, he said, based on survivors’ accounts.

Libya has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

People traffickers have operated with impunity in the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising which toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

AFP

Three Killed In Libya’s Air Raid

 

Three civilians were killed Saturday in an air raid south of the Libyan capital, a source in the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said.

“Several air strikes have targeted different positions in the Al-Swani area (25 kilometres from Tripoli), killing three civilians who were in a vehicle en route from Al-Krimiya,” GNA spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.

“One of the raids hit a house in the area,” he added, accusing eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind the strikes and others targeting residential areas of the capital and its suburbs.

READ ALSO: British Airways Pilots To Embark On Industrial Action

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 4 to conquer Tripoli.

After more than four months of clashes, the opposing sides remain embroiled in a stalemate on the capital’s southern outskirts.

Since April, the fighting has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752, while some 120,000 others have been displaced, according to the World Health Organization.

AFP

Libya Suspends Flights After Deadly Fire Rocks Capital

FILES) In this file photo taken on April 08, 2019 Grounded air-planes sit on the tarmac at Mitiga International Airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli.

 

Flights at the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport were suspended Thursday after deadly overnight rocket fire, a spokesman for the country’s unity government said.

Wednesday night’s rocket fire “killed a guard and wounded several security agents tasked with protecting the airport,” said Moustafa al-Mejii, spokesman for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

He blamed the attack on “the militias of (Khalifa) Haftar” whose forces launched an offensive on the Libyan capital in April.

Arrivals and departures at Mitiga airport were suspended as a result, Mejii said.

Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the GNA and has often been targeted, leading to repeated suspensions of flights.

READ ALSO: Flights Suspended In Irish Airport After Fire Guts Runway

United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame, in a report to the UN Security Council last month, urged “authorities in Tripoli to cease using the (Mitiga) airport for military purposes and for the attacking forces to halt immediately their targeting of it.”

The GNA protested at what it said were “untruths” in the envoy’s report.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has encountered fierce resistance from pro-government forces in the battle for Tripoli.

A stalemate on the ground in the capital’s southern outskirts has led to a greater reliance on air strikes by both sides.

The fighting since April has killed 1,093 people and wounded 5,752 others, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 120,000 people have been displaced.

The LNA said Thursday its air force carried out a strike against an airfield in Zuwara, a town west of Tripoli, and destroyed two hangars allegedly used to house Turkish drones.

“The runway and terminals were spared” at the airfield, which is not open to commercial flights, LNA spokesman General Ahmed al-Mesmari wrote on Facebook.

The GNA, however, posted pictures of a huge crater and debris on the tarmac.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

AFP

Rocket Fire Hits Libya Airport, Breaking Eid Truce

 

Rocket fire hit the Libyan capital’s sole functioning airport Sunday, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, airport authorities said.

“Mitiga airport has been targeted by fire this morning, the first day of Eid al-Adha”, the airport’s management said in a statement on Facebook, referring to the three-day Muslim holiday that began on Sunday.

Air traffic was suspended “until further notice”, the statement added, alongside photos showing columns of smoke rising from the runway and parked planes.

Haftar launched an offensive to take Libya’s capital in early April, but encountered stiff resistance, resulting in months of stalemate in southern Tripoli’s outskirts.

His self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord had on Saturday agreed to a UN-sponsored humanitarian truce for Eid Al-Adha, although the GNA had listed conditions, including a cessation of troop movements.

Late Sunday a joint statement from the United Arab Emirates, the United States, France, Italy and the UK welcomed the UN truce for the Muslim holiday and said they were “ready to assist the UN mission in monitoring the observance of the truce and address any attempt to break it.”

But the GNA blamed Haftar’s forces for the attack against the airport, and for a separate alleged attack in the Soug al-Jomaa district of Tripoli.

“Haftar’s militias have violated the truce twice,” GNA spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.

“The first time targeted a home in Soug al-Jomaa, wounding three civilians, and the second hit Mitiga airport,” he added.

Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli’s international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the UN-recognised GNA and has often been targeted.

“We have noted the coordinates of the rocket fire from zones controlled by Haftar’s militias south of the capital” and passed them on to the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Mejii said.

Libyan TV channels also reported exchanges of fire around the road to the closed international airport on Sunday.

The truce had come after UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian ceasefires, without success.

The joint statement from the five countries urged the parties to use the truce to “pave the way for a sustainable ceasefire and a return to a constructive, inclusive dialogue” towards a “lasting political solution.”

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Rival Libya Forces Agree To UN-Backed Eid Truce

Libyan Muslims perform the Eid Al-Adha morning prayer at the Martyrs Square of the capital Tripoli on August 11, 2019. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

Forces battling for control of Libya’s capital agreed to a truce on Saturday, on the eve of the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, but a car bomb killed three UN staff in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces announced that they would implement a ceasefire, after the unity government conditionally accepted the truce for the three-day holiday which starts on Sunday.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has been fighting since early April to seize Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord.

The United Nations had called on both sides to commit to a humanitarian truce by midnight on Friday.

Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari on Saturday announced “a halt to all military operations… in the suburbs of Tripoli”.

Mesmari said the truce had gone into effect at 3:00 PM (1300 GMT) on Saturday and would last until the same time on Monday afternoon.

Libyan Muslims greet each other after performing the Eid Al-Adha morning prayer at the Martyrs Square of the capital Tripoli on August 11, 2019. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

The GNA had said late on Friday it was keen to “ease the suffering of the citizens and allow rescue workers to accomplish their mission” and would accept “a humanitarian truce for Eid al-Adha”.

But it listed several conditions, saying the ceasefire must be observed “in all combat zones, with a cessation of direct and indirect fire and movement of troops”.

It added that the truce must include “a ban on flights and reconnaissance overflights” across the country’s entire airspace.

The GNA also called on the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to “ensure the implementation of the truce and note any breaches”.

Haftar’s spokesman said the ceasefire was “out of respect for this occasion’s place in our spirits… so that Libyan citizens can celebrate this Eid in peace”.

Benghazi bomb

But in Haftar-controlled Benghazi, a car bombing killed three UN staff and injured three more, the UN said.

“Three United Nations colleagues were killed in the bombing and three others are among the injured,” it said in a statement.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and called on the Libyan authorities “to spare no effort in identifying and swiftly bringing to justice the perpetrators of this attack”.

He also urged all parties to “respect the humanitarian truce… and return to the negotiating table”.

Previously, a security official had said that eight other people were injured, including a child.

Thick black smoke rose from the area and firefighters rushed to put out the flames that gutted two cars, including a white vehicle like those used by the UN.

No side had claimed responsibility for the blast.

The UN’s Libya envoy Ghassan Salame called the incident a “cowardly attack”.

It “serves as another strong reminder of the urgent need for Libyans to stop fighting, set aside their differences and work together through dialogue and not violence to end the conflict,” he said in a statement.

The European Union called the attack “contemptible and a further worrying development in the Libyan crisis”, urging all sides to abide by the UN-brokered truce.

Repeated attacks

The blast came just months after the UN reopened its offices in Benghazi, which had been closed for security consideration, and less than a month after a car bombing at the funeral of an ex-army commander killed at least four people and wounded more than 30 others.

Haftar’s forces have controlled Libya’s second city since 2017, when he drove hardline Islamists and jihadists out after a three-year battle.

But Benghazi, the cradle of the NATO-backed 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has seen repeated attacks both before and since.

One attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

A May 2018 attack left seven people dead.

A Libyan lawmaker is also feared to have been abducted by an armed group in the eastern city, the UN and lawmakers said in July.

Haftar, who backs an eastern-based administration that opposes the Tripoli-based unity government, advanced into the country’s desert south this year before turning his sights on Tripoli.

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while more than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Forces loyal to the GNA are keeping Haftar’s troops at bay on the southern outskirts of the city.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian truces, without success.

In a video conference with the UN Security Council late last month, Salame warned against mounting tensions and called for a ceasefire for Eid Al-Adha.

AFP