Three quarters witnessed murder or torture and almost all of the women had been sexually assaulted. Rape, torture and slave labour are among the daily realities in Libya for people fleeing war, persecution and poverty, according to a new report by Oxfam and Italian partners MEDU and Borderline Sicilia published today.
The report features harrowing testimonies, gathered by Oxfam and its partners, from women and men who arrived in Sicily having made the dangerous crossing from Libya. Some revealed how gangs imprisoned them in underground cells, before calling their families to demand a ransom for their release.
A teenager from Senegal told how he was kept in a cell which was full of dead bodies, before managing to escape. Others spoke of being regularly beaten and starved for months on end.
Oxfam and its partners are calling on Italy and other European member states to stop pursuing migration policies that prevent people leaving Libya and the abuse they are suffering.
Analysis of 158 testimonies from 31 women and 127 men, gathered by Oxfam and MEDU in Sicily, paints a shocking picture of the conditions they endured in Libya: All but one woman said they had suffered from sexual violence; 74% of the refugees and other migrants said they had witnessed the murder and /or torture of a travelling companion; 84% said they had suffered inhuman or degrading treatment, extreme violence or torture in Libya; 80% said they had been regularly denied food and water during their stay in Libya; and 70% said they had been tied up.
Penny Lawrence, Deputy Chief Executive, Oxfam GB said: “These testimonies paint a horrifying picture of desperate people who have risked their lives to escape war, persecution and poverty only to be confronted with unimaginable cruelty in Libya”.
“The UK, along with other EU member states, has actively supported efforts to limit arrivals in Europe, trapping refugees and other migrants in a living hell”, Lawrence adds.
“Outsourcing – he says – the policing of our borders to Libya isn’t the solution; EU member states, including the UK, should provide safe routes for people to come to Europe, including expanding opportunities for refugee families to reunite, and provide access to fair and transparent processes for claiming asylum.”
Due to a lack of safe and regular routes into Europe for refugees and other migrants, the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy has become the major port of entry for those trying to reach Europe. More than 180,000 people arrived in Italy via this route in 2016. Over 95,000 people have already arrived so far this year.
European member states have been pursuing policies preventing people from leaving Libya so they don’t make it to Europe’s shores. These actions expose refugees and other migrants to suffering and death, and must end.
More informarion: www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre