Libyan Authorities Accused of Helping Smugglers- UN Experts

Libyan Authorities Accused of Helping Smugglers- UN Experts

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 - 10:00
A migrant holds onto a railing at the stern of the Medecins Sans Frontiere (MSF) rescue ship Bourbon Argos somewhere between Libya and Sicily August 8, 2015. (File Photo: REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi)
Cairo- Khalid Mahmoud
The Special Deterrence Force (SDF) of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is involved along with armed militias in human trafficking, a UN panel of experts warned.

Human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, according to the experts' report which found that Libyan forces may be helping rebel groups tighten their control of smuggling routes.

The 157-page confidential report sent to the UN Security Council also said ISIS is seeking to join migrant smugglers in southern Libya after it was pushed out of Sirte in 2016.

"Human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, resulting in major human rights violations," said the report, seen by AFP on Monday.

The panel raised concern "over the possible use of state facilities and state funds by armed groups and traffickers to enhance their control of migration routes."

The report cited accounts from Eritrean migrants who were arrested in 2016 in Tripoli by agents of a special force affiliated to Libya's interior ministry who handed them over to migrant smugglers in exchange of payment.

Four Bangladeshi migrants arrested by the SDF in Tripoli were held in a government detention center in 2015 even though they held valid work visas. They then each paid $300 to the force and were sent to another Libyan city where they were loaded on boats for Europe "against their will", according to the report.

"The panel is assessing whether the SDF's leadership was aware of collusion and trafficking being conducted within its ranks," indicated the report.

The UN-backed authorities in Libya have set up a department to combat illegal migration (DCIM) which is responsible for 24 detention centers and a staff of 5,000, however, according to international agencies, DCIM has no control over its detention centers.

A minister of the GNA admitted to the panel that "the armed groups are stronger than the authorities in handling the flow of migrants."

The panel found that ISIS cells continue to operate in central and southern Libya despite their defeat in Sirte.

"A political solution in Libya remains out of reach in the near future," concluded the report, adding that "military dynamics in Libya and conflicting regional agendas show a lack of commitment to a peaceful solution."

In other news, Libyan authorities, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), deported on Monday 72 illegal Cameroonian immigrants to their country voluntarily.

According to a statement issued by the Libyan Ministry of Interior's Anti-Illegal Immigration Department, the deported immigrants include women and children who were housed in a reception center in Tripoli. They were deported through Tripoli's Metiga international airport, with coordination and supervision of the IOM.

Meanwhile, the British embassy in Tripoli expressed on Tuesday, regret that families from Tawergha had not been able to return home.

In a statement on its official Facebook page, the embassy condemned the threats pointed toward the displaced from Tawergha, when they tried to return home after the agreed upon reconciliation efforts in early February 2018.

The embassy called on all parties to “ensure the right of the Tawerghans to return voluntarily to their homes,” stressing the need for broader reconciliation efforts for all displaced Libyan communities in safe and humane conditions.

Libya’s parliament has condemned attacks against hundreds of displaced Tawerghans who were still stranded in a camp on Monday after militiamen prevented them from returning home.

In a statement late Sunday, the parliament said it is still working to ensure that the hundreds of families taking refuge in a camp near the town of Bani Walid can return to their home city.

Militarily, prevailed in Derna, the stronghold of extremist groups in eastern Libya, besieged by the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces since last year.

Sources in the city revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Egyptian fugitive officer Rifai Sorour, who is considered the Grand Mufti of Derna's Shura Council, survived an assassination attempt after being seen alive for the first time in years.

A source in the city said that three young supporters of the LNA tried to target Rifai in front of his house, but their positions were compromised and later they were killed.

The source explained that this operation took place about ten days ago after Rifai was seen wandering in the corridors of Harish medical center in Derna.

In other news, gunmen blew up the tomb of Aisha bin Niran, the mother of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in the area of Wadi Jarf, west of Sirte.

Local media said a group of masked gunmen blew up the grave, and the residents of Wadi Jarf, residents are mainly of the Qadhafi tribes, heard a huge explosion, noting that the building where the grave is located had been badly damaged.

After the revolution, an armed group exhumed the grave of Gaddafi's mother, uncle Ahmad Abdulsalam Abu Meniar and two other members of his family. Their remains were moved to unknown locations.

Other groups also proceeded to exhume the tomb of Muhammad Abdulsalam Abu Meniar, Gaddafi's father, in Tripoli.

Gaddafi's family vowed to file a lawsuit against the "extremists" who had exhumed the graves.

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