Event: Europe wide action called by Refugees in Libya
On Tuesday 10th January a lively group of people gathered outside the London offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as part of a Europe-wide action called by Refugees in Libya.
Protestors gathered simultaneously outside UNHCR Berlin, Brussels, Rome and Tripoli to commemorate one year since the brutal dispersal of a protest camp in front of the Tripoli Offices. During this attack, 600 people – including children and pregnant women - were arrested and detained in Ain Zara Detention Camp where 250 still remain imprisoned one year on.
The atrocities in Libyan detention centres are well documented; they are sites of rape, torture and abuse and funded by the EU. When people try to flee the country by boat many are pushed back or intercepted by the so-called ‘Libyan Coastguard’ who work in collaboration with the corporation Frontex and the Italian border authorities.
Refugees in Libya describe how they “started this Movement under the name REFUGEES IN LIBYA because we believe that whoever leaves home is a refugee regardless of the reasons”.
The London protest amplified their demands including evacuation to lands of safety, an end to the EU funding of Libyan coast guards which “forcibly intercepted refugees fleeing the Libyan hell”, the closure of all detention centres across Libya and justice for those who were shot and killed “both in and out of detention centres”.
An audio message from a Sudanese woman from Refugees in Libya described how it took four years for her to be evacuated to a place of safety. Women from the All African Women’s Group, who have suffered detention and border violence, described the experience they share with people in Libya of fleeing “civil wars, persecutions, climate changes, and poverty back in our countries of origin” and being denied protection and safety.
Two staff members from UNHCR’s “Protection” team came out to speak to protesters but had nothing to say to answer the charge that the UNHCR, with its global budget of billions of dollars, had turned away people, including mothers with children, without even providing food and water.