UNICEF warns of immediate danger facing women, children in Libya

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Children gather for a demonstration as part of World Children’s Day, UNICEF’s global day of action in front of the United Nations Headquarters building in Sanaa, Yemeni on 20 November 2019. [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday warned of the “immediate danger” to the safety and wellbeing of at least 1,000 women and children detained in refugee detention centres in Libya.

“Approximately 751 women and 255 children were among the thousands of migrants and asylum seekers caught up in recent mass arrests carried out by the Libyan authorities in different parts of the capital,” UNICEF said in a statement, pointing out that the minors include “five unaccompanied children and 30 infants.”

“Migrant and refugee children in Libya continue to face grave child rights violations including arbitrary detention,” said Cristina Brugiolo, acting UNICEF Special Representative to Libya. “Children are held under devastating and inhumane conditions in these detention centres. We can assume the actual number of children held may be much higher as many boys are reportedly placed in cells with adult males.”

Earlier this month, Libyan authorities launched arrest campaigns in Tripoli, targeting irregular migrants.

According to Doctors Without Borders, the campaign of arrests, in which violence was used, has targeted at least 5,000 people including migrants and refugees who were detained in deplorable conditions.

UNICEF and other humanitarian actors urged the Libyan authorities to “protect children and prevent them from being separated from their parents, caregivers and families.”

It also called for the “immediate release of all children in detention centers across Libya.”

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