The United Nations Human Rights Office says migrants and refugees continue to be subjected to terrible conditions in Libya.
Libya has over the past decade become a key transit point for migrants hoping to reach Europe.
Many of these African migrants endure harsh conditions on the Mediterranean Sea with many dying in the process.
Some of these migrants who fail in their attempts to reach Europe become victims of abuse in Libya.
According to a report from the UN Human Rights Office “Migrants and refugees are being subjected to unimaginable horrors” when they reach Libya and during their stay in that country.
The 61-page report was published jointly by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Human Rights Office.
It was released this week and covers a period of 20-months up to August 2018.
Migrants share their stories
Interviews conducted with Migrants and refugees revealed many “violations and abuses”. These were committed by state officials, armed groups, smugglers and traffickers against migrants and refugees.
Among these abuses are “unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, gang rape, slavery, forced labour and extortion”.
Details of the report were based on “1,300 first-hand accounts gathered by UN human rights staff in Libya itself, as well from migrants who have returned to Nigeria or reached Italy”.
The report also “traces the entire journey of migrants and refugees from Libya’s southern border, across the desert to the northern coast.”
This journey is “marred by considerable risk of serious human rights violations and abuses every step of the way.”
The report showed that “overwhelming majority of women and older teenage girls interviewed by UNSMIL reported being gang raped by smugglers or traffickers.”
On many occasions the report said women and girls are raped by the guards at detention centres. They are often “subjected to strip searches carried out, or watched, by male guards.”
Lack of international action
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salamé said in the report that “There is a local and international failure to handle this hidden human calamity that continues to take place in Libya.”
The African Union has in the past raised concerns about happenings in Libya. It has called for reforms in Libya and other areas used as transit routes to Europe.
There have also been attempts to punish persons suspected of executing such abuses but very little progress has been made.