Libya Talks With UN Ends Without Naming Interim Government

UN acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams speaks during a press conference in the Tunisian capital Tunis on November 15, 2020, following seven days of talks, hosted by the UN on the Libyan conflict. 
FETHI BELAID / AFP

 

 

UN-led talks aimed at appointing an executive to help lead Libya out of a decade of conflict ended Sunday without discussing names, the world body said.

“We have agreed to reconvene in about a week in a virtual meeting (to) agree on the selection mechanism for the coming authority,” the UN’s interim Libya envoy Stephanie Williams told journalists.

But she said “no names… were discussed” during the meetings in neighbouring Tunisia.

Libya has been riven by conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The latest phase in renewed efforts for peace in the North African country brought together 75 delegates selected by the UN to represent a broad range of constituencies.

They were charged with laying out a roadmap towards elections, setting the mandate of an interim executive, and naming its members.

But observers have criticised the way the delegates were chosen and cast doubts over their clout in a country where two administrations, as well as an array of armed groups and foreign powers, are already vying for power.

Libya is currently dominated by a unity government in Tripoli that emerged from previous UN-led talks in 2015, and its rival, the eastern-based House of Representatives elected the previous year and which never recognised the unity government.

In 2019, HoR-allied commander Khalifa Haftar, who was backed by Russia and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli.

But after a year of bloody stalemate on the edges of the capital, his forces were repelled by pro-unity government forces boosted by Turkish military support.

Military talks led to a formal ceasefire deal in October, and recent developments on parallel economic and political tracks have raised hopes for progress.

Williams said Sunday she was “very pleased with the outcome” of the Tunisia talks.

– Foreign presence –

But observers have noted major obstacles to a lasting solution.

Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya specialist at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague, warned that foreign interests could easily derail the process.

“The UN’s biggest difficulty is that there are permanent Turkish and Russian military bases and Emirati officers on the ground,” he told AFP.

But the UN’s former envoy to Libya and the architect of the current UN process, Ghassan Salame, told AFP on Friday he had higher hopes than ever for peace, citing “an accumulation of positive factors”.

He noted that Libyans were increasingly hostile to foreign interference and the presence of mercenaries.

Salame also said Turkey and Russia could see the fruition of infrastructure contracts worth billions of dollars, signed with the Kadhafi regime, but which Libyans were still keen to honour.

Williams on Sunday vowed to push onwards with the necessary steps for naming an interim executive.

But Harchaoui noted that for such an administration to be accepted, “there need to be named for each of the main posts.”

“Until this step is fulfilled, a deal won’t lead to anything concrete,” he said.

-AFP

Second Libya Shipwreck Raises Toll To Around 100 In One Day

 Photo: IOM.

 

A shipwreck off the Libyan coast has killed 20 people, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, just hours after news of a separate incident in which at least 74 migrants died.

MSF teams in the northwestern city of Sorman “assisted three women as the lone survivors of another shipwreck where 20 people drowned,” the group said Thursday on Twitter.

“Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified; they saw loved ones disappear beneath the waves, dying in front of their eyes,” it added.

Earlier Thursday, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported “a devastating shipwreck which claimed the lives of at least 74 migrants today off the coast of Khoms,” a port city 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

It said that 47 survivors had been brought back to shore and 31 bodies retrieved, adding that the boat was reported to be carrying more than 120 people.

Bodies from that shipwreck were lined up grimly along the beach on Thursday, some still wearing life jackets.

Traumatised survivors sat in shock on the shore while others huddled under blankets as aid workers distributed food parcels.

The IOM said Friday that “many women and children” were aboard the two boats, adding that the body of a toddler was among those retrieved.

“Staff in the region reported that more bodies continued to wash ashore overnight,” the IOM added in a statement.

So far this year, more than 900 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores, it said.

More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya, it added, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations”.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.

While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.

They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.

The IOM called for “a change of approach to Libya and the most dangerous maritime route on earth that ends the return of migrants to the country” and establishes “predictable safe disembarkation mechanisms”.

AFP

Libyans To Hold National Elections In December 2021


Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Libyans at UN-led talks agreed Friday to hold national elections in December next year, the United Nations said, raising hopes for an end to a brutal decade-old conflict.

Libya has been gripped by chaos and violence since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed popular uprising.

Rival administrations in the east and west, both backed by multiple armed groups and foreign powers, have since vied for control of the Mediterranean country.

Friday’s announcement came on the fifth day of political talks in Tunisia, involving 75 delegates from existing state bodies and groups from across Libya’s political and social spectrum.

Participants at the talks agreed that national elections should take place on December 24, 2021, acting UN envoy Stephanie Williams told journalists in a virtual news conference.

“It’s a very important date for Libyans,” she said. “It will be a day when they can … renew the legitimacy of their institutions.”

She said Libyans feared an entrenched foreign presence in their country and “very much want to reclaim their sovereignty”.

“You can restore it through the ballot box,” she said.

The announcement marked the first concrete decision at the Tunisia talks, and the elections announced for December next year would be the first polls in Libya since 2014.

The talks near Tunis are aimed at hammering out a deal for a new transitional government for the oil-rich North African country.

– Talks after ceasefire –

The administration would be charged with providing services and preparing for national polls, as well as tackling an economic crisis and a coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 900 people.

The Tunisia talks are held in parallel with military discussions in the coastal Libya city of Sirte to fill in the details of a ceasefire deal struck in October.

The ceasefire formally ended more than a year of fighting between forces of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and those of eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar.

The 75 delegates meeting in Tunisia were selected by the United Nations, but some Libyans have questioned their legitimacy and criticised they way they were chosen.

Analysts also fear a government resulting from the talks could struggle to gain legitimacy and face pushback from members of existing institutions.

But Williams said the momentum was against “status quo” actors “trying to maintain their current privileges”.

“The international community has tools at its disposal to prevent spoilers, including through the use of sanctions,” she said.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which is helping to facilitate the talks, said the new government would not need a vote of confidence from Libya’s House of Representatives.

The HoR, elected in 2014, is based in Libya’s east and allied with Haftar, who launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli from the GNA.

Pro-unity government forces ended a bloody months-long stalemate in June by pushing Haftar’s forces back eastwards.

-AFP

At Least 74 Migrants Dead In Shipwreck Off Libyan Coast

The boat was reported to be carrying over 120 people, among them women and children. Photo: IOM.

 

At least 74 migrants died in a “devastating” shipwreck on Thursday off the Libyan coast, the United Nations said, the latest in a spate of migrant vessel sinkings in the central Mediterranean.

This year has seen a resurgence of boats in the central Mediterranean, a well-trodden but often deadly route for those hoping to travel to Europe, mainly embarking from Libya and neighbouring Tunisia.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration reported “a devastating shipwreck which claimed the lives of at least 74 migrants today off the coast of Khoms,” in a statement, adding that the coastguard and fishermen were searching for survivors.

Khoms is a port city 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

The IOM called it the latest disaster in a “series of tragedies” involving at least eight other shipwrecks in the Mediterranean sea since the start of October.

“The boat was reported to be carrying over 120 people, among them women and children,” the IOM said, adding that 47 survivors had been brought back to shore and 31 bodies retrieved.

The IOM said that in the past two days, at least 19 other people, including two children, drowned after two boats capsized in the central Mediterranean.

More than 20,000 migrants have died in the last seven years, according to the UN refugee agency.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the 2011 fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.

While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.

They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.

– ‘Unworkable approach’ –

Rights groups have denounced the policy, and the IOM has campaigned to end returns to the North African country, 300 kilometres (185 miles) from the Italian coast.

“The mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of states to take decisive action to redeploy much-needed, dedicated search and rescue capacity in the deadliest sea-crossing in the world,” said Federico Soda, the IOM’s Libya mission chief.

“We have long called for a change in the evidently unworkable approach to Libya and the Mediterranean, including ending returns to the country and establishing a clear disembarkation mechanism followed by solidarity from other states.

“Thousands of vulnerable people continue to pay the price for inaction both at sea and on land.”

The latest shipwreck comes as Libyans were hammering out Thursday in Tunisia the powers of a proposed transitional government in UN-led talks aimed at ending a brutal decade-old conflict.

Since Kadhafi’s ouster and killing, oil-rich Libya has been gripped by chaos and violence, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for control of the country.

The political talks in Tunisia follow a ceasefire deal struck in October, and come as military talks, also led by the UN, were underway in Sirte, Kadhafi’s hometown.

The IOM said that so far this year, at least 900 people had drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores — some due to delays in rescue.

More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya, it said, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations, detention, abuse, trafficking and exploitation”.

The IOM said it had recorded a recent upsurge in departures from Libya, with some 1,900 being intercepted and returned, and more than 780 arrivals in Italy from Libya since the start of October.

The humanitarian ship Open Arms rescued around 100 migrants on Wednesday when their boat capsized, killing five people aboard, the charity that operates it said.

The humanitarian vessel is the only one operating in the Mediterranean right now, with others run by non-governmental groups held for various reasons in Italian ports.

AFP

Turkey Tells Germany Chance For Libya Peace Should Not Be Wasted

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said the peace drive to end the conflict in Libya since 2011 should not be wasted, in a video conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

There has been increased hope since the two main warring factions separately announced in August that they would cease hostilities, which was followed by a series of UN-backed talks.

The two main factions are based around the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday voiced “cautious optimism” over efforts to end the conflict in Libya, after co-chairing talks with the United Nations that involved the warring Libyan sides.

Erdogan told Merkel that “the opportunity that emerged thanks to the calm sustained on the field in Libya should not be wasted,” the Turkish presidency said.

Turkey strongly backs the Tripoli government providing military support following an April 2019 offensive by rival strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

Erdogan on Sunday expressed “full solidarity” with the GNA after a meeting in Istanbul with its head Fayez al-Sarraj.

AFP

EU Sanctions Three Firms For Breaking Libya Arms Embargo

An official hangs a Union Jack next to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, ahead of a European Union Summit on Brexit.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on three companies — one Turkish, one Kazakh and one Jordanian — for breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya, drawing an angry reaction from Turkey.

At a regular meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers signed off on the measures, which freeze any EU assets held by the companies, cut them off from EU finance markets, and bar them from doing business with anyone in the bloc.

Two individuals were also hit with sanctions for human rights abuses in Libya, where the UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack from strongman Khalifa Haftar, who runs a rival administration in the east.

The EU has a naval mission operating in waters off Libya which is tasked with policing the embargo and collecting intelligence on violators.

“These new listings show the EU’s strategic use of its sanctions regime and ability to react to developments on the ground in support of the political process and to deter past and present perpetrators from further violations,” the EU said in a statement.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

But there have been signs of progress, with representatives from the two sides meeting for peace talks in Morocco, announcing a surprise ceasefire and pledging national elections.

“After many months I see a reason for cautious optimism. There is a positive momentum, there is a ceasefire and we need to use it,” EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said as he arrived for the foreign ministers’ talks.

– Turkey attacks ‘wrong decision’ –
But the targeting of a Turkish company risks inflaming already tense relations between Ankara and the EU following a recent flare-up in the eastern Mediterranean over oil and gas reserves.

The EU says the company, Avrasya Shipping, operates a vessel called the Cirkin, which it says breached the arms embargo by transporting military material to Libya in May and June 2020.

Turkey lashed out at the decision in a statement from the foreign ministry late on Monday.

“At a time when efforts are made to reduce tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, making such a wrong decision is extremely unfortunate,” it read.

It also accused the EU’s naval mission in waters off Libya, called Operation Irini, of “ignoring” shipments to Haftar, “especially by the UAE (United Arab Emirates)”

“The EU’s Operation Irini rewards Haftar and punishes the Libya government recognised by the United Nations,” said the statement.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and Qatar, while Haftar has enjoyed the support of Russia, Egypt, the UAE and France.

“If the EU wants security and stability in the region, it should give up on its biased attitude and act in consultation and cooperation with Turkey,” the foreign ministry statement added.

The other two companies targeted by the EU sanctions were Kazakh cargo air operator Sigma Airlines and Jordanian maritime firm Med Wave Shipping.

 

 

-AFP

EU Sanctions Three Firms For Breaking Libya Arms Embargo

European Union, Ogbonnaya Onu, Science and technology

 

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on three companies — one Turkish, one Kazakh and one Jordanian — for breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomatic sources told AFP.

Foreign ministers from the bloc signed off on the measures, which freeze any EU assets held by the companies as well as cutting them off from EU finance markets and barring them from doing business with anyone in the bloc, at a regular meeting in Brussels.

Two individuals were also hit with the sanctions for supplying material to Libya, where the UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack from strongman Khalifa Haftar, who runs a rival administration in the east.

The EU has a naval mission operating in waters off Libya which is tasked with policing the embargo and collecting intelligence on violators, but Monday’s measures are the bloc’s first independent sanctions related to the conflict.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

But there have been signs of progress, with representatives from the two sides meeting for peace talks in Morocco after last month announcing a surprise ceasefire and pledging national elections.

“After many months I see a reason for cautious optimism. There is a positive momentum, there is a ceasefire and we need to use it,” EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said as he arrived for the foreign ministers’ talks.

But the targeting of a Turkish company risks inflaming already tense relations between Ankara and the EU following a recent flare-up in the eastern Mediterranean over oil and gas reserves.

AFP

Libyan Unity Government Chief Says He Is Ready To Step Down

Fayez al-Sarraj (R), Prime Minister of Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), meets with Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio (L) in the Libyan capital Tripoli on June 24, 2020, while clad in masks due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by – / AFP)

 

 

The head of Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord said Wednesday he planned to step down within six weeks as part of efforts to broker a peace agreement.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA has battled against a rival administration in eastern Libya led by strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose offensive against the regime in Tripoli recently ground to a halt after more than a year of deadly conflict.

Both sides have since met for peace talks in Morocco after last month announcing a surprise ceasefire and pledging national elections.

Sarraj said during a brief televised address on Wednesday evening that he was willing to leave his post in favour of a new executive determined by the talks.

“I announce to all my sincere wish to cede my functions to the next administration before the end of October at the latest,” he said.

The talks had outlined the process for determining a new Presidential Council and the appointment of a new head of government who would take office “peacefully”, Sarraj added.

 

 

He welcomed the “preliminary and promising recommendations” agreed to during the Morocco dialogue.

The Morocco summit, dubbed the “Libyan Dialogue”, has brought together five members of the Tripoli-based GNA and five from the rival parliament headquartered in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Talks have focused on appointments to the top of the country’s key institutions, with the naming of the heads of Libya’s central bank, its National Oil Corporation and the armed forces the main points of dispute.

Morocco also hosted talks in 2015 that led to the creation of the GNA.

AFP

Libya Records 1,080 COVID-19 Cases In 24 Hours

Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine Set For Final Trial Stage After 'Promising' Results
In this file photo taken on May 18, 2020, a syringe is pictured on an illustration representation of COVID-19.

 

Libya on Monday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest tally for a single day since the conflict-ravaged country announced its first cases in late March.

“Of the 4,291 tests performed on Sunday, 1,080 were positive,” said the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a Tripoli-based government agency.

The figure brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in the North African country to 18,834, including 16,376 who required hospitalisation, 2,162 patients who recovered and 296 deaths.

The NCDC urged people in areas where the virus is spreading rapidly to avoid travel unless it is essential.

Tripoli and its suburbs, home to more than one-third of Libya’s population, accounted for more than half of the new cases for the third week in a row.

On Sunday, the NCDC launched a campaign to raise awareness about health protocols, including the wearing of masks which is compulsory in public.

It called on Tripoli residents to be more vigilant and to respect such measures given the “rapidly worsening epidemiological situation”.

Libya, ravaged by a complex web of conflicts since the ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, has seen Covid-19 cases surge, weighing on already stretched health services.

At the end of August, the World Health Organization voiced alarm over the uptick in infections.

“Compounding the situation, Libya’s health care system has been badly disrupted by years of conflict,” the WHO said.

“Given the acute shortages of tests and laboratory capacity, the real number of (Covid-19) cases is likely to be much higher.”

AFP

Libya Reports Highest COVID-19 Cases For Single Day

Libyans go on with their lives in the capital Tripoli on March 10, 2020. According to Libyan authorities, not a single case of coronavirus so far has been recorded in the country which faces Italy across the Mediterranean. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP.

 

Libya on Monday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest tally for a single day since the conflict-ravaged country announced its first cases in late March.

“Of the 4,291 tests performed on Sunday, 1,080 were positive,” said the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a Tripoli-based government agency.

The figure brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in the North African country to 18,834, including 16,376 who required hospitalisation, 2,162 patients who recovered and 296 deaths.

The NCDC urged people in areas where the virus is spreading rapidly to avoid travel unless it is essential.

Tripoli and its suburbs, home to more than one-third of Libya’s population, accounted for more than half of the new cases for the third week in a row.

On Sunday, the NCDC launched a campaign to raise awareness about health protocols, including the wearing of masks which is compulsory in public.

It called on Tripoli residents to be more vigilant and to respect such measures given the “rapidly worsening epidemiological situation”.

Libya, ravaged by a complex web of conflicts since the ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, has seen Covid-19 cases surge, weighing on already stretched health services.

At the end of August, the World Health Organization voiced alarm over the uptick in infections.

“Compounding the situation, Libya’s health care system has been badly disrupted by years of conflict,” the WHO said.

“Given the acute shortages of tests and laboratory capacity, the real number of (Covid-19) cases is likely to be much higher.”

AFP

UN In Libya Urges Probe After Violence At Protest

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The UN mission to Libya on Monday urged the Government of National Accord (GNA) to conduct an “immediate and thorough investigation” after violence at a protest in Tripoli a day earlier.

Hundreds gathered in the capital on Sunday evening to protest deteriorating living conditions and denounce corruption in the war-torn country, before security personnel fired into the air to disperse them, witnesses said.

“UNSMIL calls for an immediate and thorough investigation into the excessive use of force by pro-GNA security personnel in Tripoli yesterday which resulted in the injury of a number of protesters,” the UN mission said in a statement, without specifying how many people were wounded.

Videos and photographs circulating on social media showed men in military attire aiming their guns towards protesters in one of the capital’s streets.

Ayman al-Wafi, a young man in his twenties who attended the protest, told AFP that demonstrators had left Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square after “security forces started firing in the air”.

Angered by chronic water, power, and petrol shortages in a country with Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, the mostly young people had marched through the city centre chanting slogans including “No to corruption!”

Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha called those responsible for the violence “outlaws who infiltrated the security forces” supervising the protest.

The interior ministry on Sunday evening said in a statement that the men “do not belong to the security forces” and would be arrested.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The country is plagued by water shortages and power blackouts that snuff out air-conditioners in the searing summer heat.

The situation has been compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has spread in the country despite social distancing measures.

Considering “the continuing immiseration of the Libyan people and the ever-present threat of renewed conflict, it is past time for Libyan leaders to put aside their differences and engage in a fully inclusive political dialogue,” the UN mission said.

The protest came just two days after the country’s warring rival administrations announced separately that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections.

AFP

Thousands Of Migrants Dying On Trek Across Africa – UN

File photo: Illegal migrants of different African nationalities arrive at a naval base in the capital Tripoli on April 22, 2018, after they were rescued off the coast of Zlitan from two inflatable boats.  MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP

 

 

 

Thousands of migrants have died after suffering “extreme” abuse while crossing Africa, according to a UN report on Wednesday that estimated 72 people perish each month on the continent’s routes.

There has been considerable focus on the thousands lost at sea while trying to cross from Africa to Europe, but a new report found that routes from West and East Africa up towards the Mediterranean can be equally perilous.

Entitled “On this journey, no one cares if you live or die”, the report published jointly by the UN refugee agency and the Danish Refugee Council’s Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) details horrific realities many face along the way.

Most migrants making such journeys experience or witness “unspeakable brutality and inhumanity” by smugglers, traffickers, militias and sometimes state actors, the UNHCR said.

In 2018 and 2019 alone, at least 1,750 people died, corresponding to an average of 72 a month or more than two deaths each day, “making it one of the most deadly routes for refugees and migrants in the world,” the report found.

“For too long, the harrowing abuses experienced by refugees and migrants along these overland routes have remained largely invisible,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in the statement.

The report, he said, documents “killings and widespread violence of the most brutal nature, perpetrated against desperate people fleeing war, violence and persecution.”

Nearly a third of those who die along these overland routes tried to cross the Sahara desert. Others perished in the south of war-ravaged Libya, while another deadly route crosses conflict-ridden Central African Republic and Mali.

– ‘Appalling conditions’ –

Those who survive are often left severely traumatised.

This is particularly true for the many who pass through Libya, where random killings, torture, forced labour and beatings are widespread, the report found.

Tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, often sub-Saharan African and Asian migrants hoping to make it across the Mediterranean, have been stranded in chaos-wracked Libya, now a key route for illicit migration to Europe.

 

migrants
Refugees stand at a makeshift camp before being evicted by French police, in Aubervilliers, near Paris, on July 29, 2020. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

 

And many of those who try to cross the Mediterranean are stopped and turned back by the Libyan coastguard.

More than 6,200 refugees were forced to disembark in Libya so far this year alone, the report said, stressing that many are then detained in “appalling conditions”.

Women and girls, but also men and boys, face a high risk of rape and other sexual abuse along the various routes, in particular at checkpoints, in border areas and during desert crossings, the report found.

Smugglers were the main perpetrators in North and East Africa, while in West Africa police and security forces were held responsible for a quarter of the reported sexual assaults.

Around a third of those who reported witnessing or surviving sexual violence said it had occurred in more than one location.

“Strong leadership and concerted action are needed by states in the region, with support from the international community, to end these cruelties, protect the victims and prosecute the criminals responsible,” Grandi said.

AFP