Libya's detention of migrants is "inhuman", says United Nations official

Libya's detention of migrants is

The European Union's (EU) support for Libya's Coast Guard which has resulted in thousands of migrants being detained in "horrific" conditions inside Libya is "inhuman", the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein has said.

Media reports from Libya also suggest a thriving slave trade, with male migrants sold for several hundred dollars each as "merchandise", according to video footage released today by CNN.

The EU is providing the Libyan Coast Guard with training and material assistance to support its mission to intercept migrant boats and return the passengers to Libyan shores.

"We can not be a silent witness to modern day slavery, rape and other sexual violence, and unlawful killings in the name of managing migration and preventing desperate and traumatized people from reaching Europe's shores", Mr Hussein said. They vowed especially to help improve conditions for migrants held in Libya.

Migrants and refugees seated on a rubber boat receive instructions during a rescue operation by the crew of the Topaz Responder, a rescue ship run by Maltese NGO "Moas" and the Italian Red Cross, on November 4, 2016 off the coast of Libya.

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While U.N. agencies and other humanitarian groups have access to them and seek to provide health care and some food, Zeid said it was not enough because "the European Union and its member states have done nothing so far to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants".

"That was up from about 7,000 in mid-September when authorities detained thousands of migrants following armed clashes in Sabratha smuggling and trafficking hub, about 80 kilometres west of Tripoli". This includes in global waters, despite the concerns which was raised by various rights groups that this would condemn more migrants to arbitrary and indefinite detention and expose them to forced labour or extortion. "I haven't seen a doctor yet", she said.

"We can not be a silent witness to modern day slavery, rape and other sexual violence, and unlawful killings in the name of managing migration and preventing desperate and traumatised people from reaching Europe's shores", Prince Zeid said.

He urged Libyan authorities to actively stamp out human rights violations in government-controlled centres, to open all migrant centres in the country, free those who detained and bring to justice individuals suspected of committing crimes against migrants.

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