Libya: MSF Suspends Work in Libyan Detention Centers in Protest Over Violence

Libya flag

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced it would suspend its medical care at two Libyan detention centres due to the unacceptable level of violence, and will not return until conditions improve, according to a statement.

"The persistent pattern of violent incidents and serious harm to refugees and migrants, as well as the risk to the safety of our staff, has reached a level that we are no longer able to accept," said Beatrice Lau, MSF's head of mission in Libya, adding that it was not an easy decision to make.

MSF documented acts of violence committed by the guards at the Mabani 'Collection and Return' detention centre 10 days ago, witnessing guards indiscriminately beating people who attempted to leave their cells to be consulted by MSF doctors.

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The previous night, the overcrowded detention centre erupted in mass violence as migrants, refugees and guards suffered multiple fractures, cuts and abrasions, including one unaccompanied child who was left unable to walk after suffering serious wounds to the ankles, according to their statement.

Increased interceptions at sea and forcible return of vulnerable people to #Libya and into detention has caused severe overcrowding in detention centres and a deterioration of already desperate conditions inside.

Photo: ©Guillaume Binet/Myop, 2017, Abu Salim DC

- MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) June 22, 2021

The medical charity said that the rise in violence in 2021 goes hand-in-hand with the rise "in the number of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers intercepted at sea by the EU-funded Libyan coast guard."

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 14,000 people have been intercepted and forcibly returned to Libya since the beginning of 2021.

This exceeds the total number of forced returns for all of 2020--from 13 June to 19 June, nearly 1,600 people were picked up and returned.

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