Sunday 19 August 2018

International aid organisation calls for end to arbitrary detention of refugees in Libyan detention centres

Abu Salim detention centre in Libya (Photo: Guillaume Binet/MSF)
Abu Salim detention centre in Libya (Photo: Guillaume Binet/MSF)
Abu Salim detention centre in Libya (Photo: Guillaume Binet/MSF)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A leading international medical humanitarian organisation has called for an end to the arbitrary detention of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants currently held in Libyan detention centres.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has released these photographs, calling the conditions of the detention centres "substandard".

They said the centres do not meet any international or national standards.

The international humanitarian organisation has now been providing medical care to people held inside Tripoli detention centres for more than one year.

Medical advisor Dr Sibylle Sang described the conditions inside the centres.

"Detainees are stripped of any human dignity, suffer ill treatment and lack access to medical care," Dr Sang said.

Abu Salim detention centre in Libya (Photo: Guillaume Binet/MSF)
Abu Salim detention centre in Libya (Photo: Guillaume Binet/MSF)

"Every day we see how much unnecessary harm is being caused by detaining people in these conditions but there is only so much we can do to ease the suffering."

Medical teams treat more than a thousand detainees every month for respiratory tract infections, acute watery diarrhoea, infestations of scabies and lice, and urinary tract infections.

Many detention centres are dangerously overcrowded with the amount of space per detainee so limited that people are unable to stretch out at night and there is little natural light or ventilation.

Food shortages have led to adults suffering from acute malnutrition, with some patients needing urgent hospitalisation.

There is no formal registration system in place and no proper record-keeping in the centres. As a result, once people are inside a detention centre there is no way to track what happens to them.

MSF said this makes close monitoring and follow-up of patients difficult.

Some patients simply disappear without a trace, the organisation said.

Director of Médecins Sans Frontières in Ireland Sam Taylor said; "We are treating more than a thousand detainees a month for diseases a result of their detention, including at least one adult per week for acute malnutrition."

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