After escaping, with hundreds of others, from an overcrowded Libyan detention centre where guards shot dead six migrants, Sudanese refugee Halima Mokhtar Bshara says she just wants to leave the country.
“They attacked us, humiliated us, many of us were wounded,” said the 27-year-old from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.
“We’re at the end of our tether.” The Al-Mabani facility in the capital Tripoli was at triple its capacity following police raids against migrants last week, when guards shot six people dead on Friday.
The shooting was “related to overcrowding and the terrible, very tense situation,” the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.
Some 2,000 migrants and refugees escaped in the chaos, including Bshara and her three children.
She was among hundreds taking part in a sit-in in front of the office of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Tripoli yesterday. Dozens of destitute migrants and refugees, including young children, have been sleeping rough in front of the building for days, in the hope of receiving assistance.
“We’re extremely tired. But we have nowhere to go, we are even being chased off the pavement,” Bshara said tearfully.
“For our security, we ask to be evacuated,” one banner at the site says.
“Libya is not a safe country for refugees,” reads another.
In chaos since its 2011 revolution, Libya has long been a favoured departure point for migrants — many from sub-Saharan Africa — fleeing violence and poverty in their own countries and hoping to reach Europe.Hundreds die each year trying to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing in rickety, overcrowded boats, while NGOs say those waiting to leave are often subject to violence and abuse.
Late last week, Libyan authorities raided multiple houses and makeshift shelters in a poor suburb of Tripoli, in what it said was an anti-drug operation.
The UN said the raids, mostly targeting irregular migrants, left at least one person dead, 15 wounded and more than 5,000 detained.
Doctors without Borders (MSF) decried “violent mass arrests”. “There were 39 of us living in the same building” before the raids, Bshara said.
At first, she said she and her family evaded authorities by hiding in a well, but they were eventually found and placed in the Al-Mabani detention centre.
There were so many people there that it was impossible to sleep, said Ismail Derrab, another of those who escaped the facility on Friday.
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