AFRICA/LIBYA - Father Zerai's appeal: "An international plan to save African immigrants from detention centers"

Saturday, 30 November 2019 human rights   immigrants   violence   poverty  

Tripoli (Agenzia Fides) - In Libyan detention centers the living conditions of hundreds of Africans are inhumane. Many lives are at risk if there is no plan or international intervention to save poor and unarmed prisoners. This was confirmed to Agenzia Fides by Abba Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest who has been involved in supporting immigrants for years. The priest has collected some testimonies from the Zawiya camp, where there are "about 650 people, women and men of different nationalities of whom 400 Eritreans and Ethiopians who live constantly in fear. There are gunshots nearby but inmates are closed there, without protection, without escape routes in case of attack". Father Mussie says: "We launch an appeal to all European institutions and human rights agencies. They have to mobilize to implement an extraordinary plan for the evacuation of these brothers and sisters who are today in these conditions. Every postponement endangers the lives of hundreds of human lives".
The living conditions in Libyan detention centers, he notes, are at the limit of what can be considered human. In the testimonies gathered by Don Zerai, shared with Agenzia Fides, the inmates say: "For months we have not received anything for personal hygiene, we are forced to drink salt water of which we do not know the origin. We constantly live with people who have serious health problems, the most serious are Tuberculosis patients: about 40 people, of whom 10 have never had any assistance, three are in very serious condition, with the serious risk of transmitting the disease to all of us".
International organizations seem to have no interest in these internal African migrants, who say: "Operators of the NGOs without Borders presented themselves a month ago, and since then we have not seen them again. The members of ACNUR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) passed by some days ago, they limited themselves to taking the fingerprints of 34 people, ignoring people who had been sick for some time, as well as people who are awaiting resettlement since February 2018".
Father Zerai explains that migrants feel abandoned, many have fallen into depression, others try to escape, in desperation. "There are seven cases of attempted suicide among those who have been in the camp for a year and more, forced to move from one camp to another. A few weeks ago a sick Nigerian woman died. Even a three-year-old girl lost her life after a fall".
In this situation and in a scenario marked by persistent internal conflict, Don Zerai concludes, "a serious commitment and an intervention by European governments and international institutions to change fortunes and give concrete hope to these brothers is urgently needed". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 30/11/2019)