Rescued migrants tell of detention, beatings, slavery in Libya

Fri May 19, 2017 4:08pm GMT
 

* Migrant arrivals to Italy by boat up 35 percent

* Italy, EU seeking to bolster Libyan coastguard

* People going hungry in Libyan centres - MSF

By Steve Scherer

ABOARD RESCUE SHIP AQUARIUS, May 19 (Reuters) - A day after reaching safety aboard a humanitarian ship, migrants on Friday told of arbitrary detention, slavery and beatings in Libya as Europe seeks to build up the Tripoli-based coastguard.

"Libya is crazy. They arrest us, the police ... They put us in some place ... two, three days no eat, no drink. They beat us," said Alseer Issa Ibrahim, 28, from the Darfur region of Sudan.

Ibrahim is one of almost 600 people on the Aquarius, a rescue ship operated by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee, now heading toward an Italian port.

Six years after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, Libya appears to be sliding deeper into lawlessness. Smugglers are packing record numbers of people onto unsafe boats, with sea arrivals to Italy up 35 percent so far this year. More than 1,300 have died.

John Osifo, a 29-year-old Nigerian, spent 11 months in Libya. He said he did not plan to go to Europe, but after a few months working at a car wash, a local man destroyed his passport and work permit, making him an irregular migrant, and he was forced into hard labour.   Continued...

 
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