Tripoli — AT least 22 migrants and refugees have died of tuberculosis (TB) in Libya's dreaded detention centres.
Doctors reported that this is a sign of the deteriorating standards at the Zintan and Gharyan detention centres, located south of the capital Tripoli in the Nafusa Mountains.
Hundreds of foreign nationals, mostly those stranded in Libya after failed trips to Europe, are detained there.
Some have been kept for months while others have been there for years.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/ Doctors Without Borders reported that in Zintan, some 700 detainees were held in overcrowded cells with no functioning toilets, shower and only sporadic access to water, which was not suitable for drinking.
"Health-wise, it was a disaster," said Julien Raickman, MSF head of mission in Libya.
Raickman said a TB outbreak had likely been raging for months in the detention centre.
"The situation was so critical that we immediately arranged lifesaving referrals to hospital during our initial visits."
The number of people held in Libyan detention centres peaked in late 2017 at more than 20 000.
Meanwhile, a group of 131 refugees was evacuated from Libya to Niger last week.
The evacuees are from Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan. Among them were 65 children. Some had been in detention for over a year.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) facilitated their evacuation.
Deadly conflict characterises Libya. The bloodshed peaked in 2011 when longtime leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was overthrown and later murdered by rebels backed by French-US led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).