Today marks World Refugee Day, which commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world. With 42,500 people forced from their homes every day due to conflict or persecution, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) wishes to use this opportunity to show its solidarity #WithRefugees.
In Libya, the ongoing armed conflict forced more than 400,000 individuals to leave their homes and relocate to other parts of the country. As host communities themselves are struggling to access basic services, living conditions for many internally displaced persons (IDPs) are poor, with IDPs facing difficulties to enjoy their rights to housing, health, food and education. In addition, it is estimated that the country hosts between 700,000 to one million foreign nationals, many of whom seek to travel through Libya as a main transit and departure point for migration to Europe by sea. Foreign nationals are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses such as arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and other ill-treatment. Over 3,000 foreign nationals alone are said to face torture and other ill-treatment in eleven facilities run by the Department of Combatting Irregular Migration (DCIM) under the Ministry of the Interior.
“The fate of those who enter Libyan detention facilities is a grim one of torture and ill-treatment,” said LFJL Director, Elham Saudi, “with migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers being especially vulnerable to such treatment.” LFJL calls on the Libyan state to protect all detainees and to safeguard the human rights of all migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya and to hold all those who violate such rights accountable. LFJL further calls on the Libyan state to accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol, as recently accepted by the state in its Universal Periodic Review.
To reach Europe, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers often rely on the services of smugglers in order to embark on their journey in overcrowded and unsafe boats. According to the International Organization for Migration, 2,859 individuals died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the first half of 2016 alone, amounting to nearly 1,000 more deaths than in the same period last year. In view of the ongoing failure to stop the loss of life at sea, LFJL reiterates its call on the European Union Member States to adopt a strategy which safeguards the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers embarking from Libya and which addresses the root causes of this movement of people, including the ongoing armed conflicts in the region.
This year, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calls on all governments to ensure that every refugee child gets an education, every refugee family has somewhere safe to live and every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community. We especially call on the Libyan state to guarantee these basic rights for migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and those internally displaced in Libya.
Everyone deserves to live in safety. Please join us in pledging your support for UNHCR’s call on governments to act with solidarity and shared responsibility, and add your name to the #WithRefugees petition.
Please consider making a huge difference by donating to LFJL’s work to protect the human rights of migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and IDPs. Your donations and support will allow us to seek redress for those who have experienced human rights abuses and advocate for better protections to be implemented in the future. Together we can work towards putting an end to further tragedies.