Eritrean Refugees in Libya: Forced to Clear Land Mines

March 20, 2013

These refugees are not given access to UNHCR. It is inhuman that these  refugees, who fled persecution in Eritrea, should suffer further harassment and risk being blown up while clearing the mines. The Libyans do not want to do it themselves, so they use refugees.  This is barbaric  and should be condemned.

2) Over 400 Eritrean refugees have been trafficked from Sudan to Libya and involuntarily held in Ajdabiya, near Banqazi. Over 120  refugees had paid a $1,700 ransom per person before their release; the remaining 400 are held inhumanly, and those who were released report that they were starving and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. This could not happen in such large numbers if the Libyan government took action against it, so it can only be assumed that they are complicit.

3) Eritrean refugees are also detained incommunicado and under harsh conditions at the following prisons:
Salma prison (near  Tripoli) – 81refugees
Al-Khums (near  Tripoli) – no numbers available
Al-Kufra  – Over 300 refugees
Sabha – around 1,200 refugees
Zuwara – no numbers available

It is very sad to see what the so-called revolutionaries in Libya are doing to the refugees from Africa. We had hoped that they would empathise with the situation in Eritrea, and the plight of Eritrean refugees, as they themselves have suffered at the hands of Gaddafi. Instead, the Eritrean refugees are detained like criminals under harsh conditions. The UNHCR office in Tripoli is not notified of the presence of those refugees in Libya. Why not?

Libya is one of the  signatories to the African Charter on Refugees and a member of the United Nations. And yet it flouts the most basic human rights requirements in its maltreatment of Eritreans.

We appeal to the international community to condemn these horrendous developments in Libya.

Elizabeth (Elsa)  Chyrum
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
London, U.K