The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Over four months in harsh conditions | Libyan authorities detain 22 Syrians including three children

The Libyan authorities have been detaining 22 Syrians including three children in a detention center for over four months, for entering Libya legally according to the Libyan regime.

According to reliable SOHR sources, the Libyan authorities detained them on November 13, 2022, where they were put for three months in Malita prison, ten days in Sarman prison and 15 days in Jadaaim until February 16.

Moreover, the refugees entered through Banina airport and airlines of Ajnehat Al-Sham, and headed towards the western area, where a doctor, a university professor and three minors with one of them who had an amputated leg, were among those detained.

The Libyan authorities issued, through Al-Ogailat court, against them a verdict of deportation and fined them on 31/10/2022, where the fine reached 600 Libyan Dinars.

The detained people suffer from scabies, skin diseases, shortage of water, poor hygiene, shortage of medicine, poor health care and lack of clothes for heating. Meanwhile, it is difficult for them to contact their families or appoint a lawyer, amid fears of the minors developing chronic diseases due to the scabies and poor hygiene.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls on the Libyan authorities to release the detained and minor Syrians and settle their conditions according to the law without depriving them of their freedom in light of their unrealistic return to Syria in fear for their lives.

Reliable sources informed SOHR that tens of Syrian migrants were detained in a detention centre in west Libya, where they had been arrested while they were attempting to sneak into Europe in a dilapidated boat. Meanwhile, international and local authorities continue their shameful silence and inaction towards the crisis of those Syrian migrants who attempted to flee from the war and its scourges in their homeland.

Speaking to SOHR, a survivor told off the tragic situation of Syrians in detention centres run by armed militiamen in Libya. The survivor, who had been released after paying a ransom, described the sufferings of tens of Syrians who arrested by armed militiamen in Libya, while they were in a boat heading to Europe. According to the man, the militiamen held the arrested Syrians in an unofficial centre where they endured cruel torture, humiliation and starvation under poor health conditions.

The eyewitness said that nearly 300 Syrian people were held in these detention centres where nobody can survive, unless his family pays a ransom of 2,500 USD, referring to the fact that these criminal militiamen had been blackmailing the detainees and use them as a major source of income, disregarding dreadful conditions of these detainees and their families.

The man says, “I was held in a detention centre, and I sent a message to my brother, with the help of a survivor, to send me money to pay the ransom requested for my release. After frequent attempts, I managed to give the message to the man who was preparing for being released after having paid a ransom, and he delivered it to my brother. In an Arab country, I witnessed horrific and unbelievable practices and tragedies which the detainees endured. There were Tunisian, Lebanese, Egyptian and African detainees were detained in these centres and struggling with the same disastrous situations, waiting for their released. However, their situation deteriorated further with losing hope to secure the requested large ransoms.

Responding SOHR question about the living conditions of those detainees, the man says, “everyone of us was given only a handful of rice or pasta boiled in salty water, while worms, lice, scabies, germs, bacteria and infectious diseases were slowly eating our bodies. I cannot forget the horrific scene of African brothers whose bodies were snapped by worms, after having been stripped of their very torn cloths. The militiamen also used extreme violence against the detainees, where they cruelly beat the detainees with electric plastic cables. I also remember an inhumane incident, in which three Syrians were beaten with a steel bar, one of whom lost his finger because of the brutal torture.”

The eyewitness added, “these detention centres were run by militiamen who were nominally not affiliated to the Libyan authorities. My brother had caught scabies, after having been detained for 20 successive days. We were forced to lie on the ground, after having been stripped of all cloths. There were several women and children of different nationalities detained for eight months, and they lost hope to be salvaged after their health conditions had deteriorated greatly.”

The survivor provided SOHR with documents substantiating his story, which manifested in messages written by Syrian detainees to their families, appealing to them to help them to be released at any cost, before having been eaten by worms.

The man says, “the militiamen drove the detainees, who complained of having diseases, out of the centres and beat them brutally, before returning them back and accusing them of ‘telling lies.’ Only salty water was available in this centre for both drinking and washing.”

The man appealed to SOHR to highlight plight of Syrian detainees in Libya, so that the international community will interfere immediately and dispatch a delegation to check the detainees’ situation on the ground with the aim of releasing them, stressing that the situation should be handled as soon as possible, without delay.

The Syrian Observatory reports the testimony as it was told of by the eyewitness, calling upon the international community and all media outlets to intensify their efforts to save Syrians and other detainees before it is too late.

We, at SOHR, call upon the authorities in west Libya to interfere immediately to put an end to reprehensible practices against human dignity and undertake their humanitarian duties, and we rely on the understanding of Libyan authorities which have been all along supporting Syrians in their crisis, which is similar to the Libyan’s.

We also call upon the international community to provide support to the Libyan government, so that it will hold accountable criminals who run such detention centres.