Libya: civilians detained in evacuation of Sirte

Human Rights Watch has issued an urgent call for Libya's government to protect civilians who were detained after fleeing former ISIS stronghold Sirte. "Libyan authorities should ensure the safety of and urgently provide medical care for more than 120 women and children being held in a Misrata prison after recently fleeing fighting in Sirte," the statement said. Sirte was announced cleared of ISIS fighters by forces allied with Libya's unity government after seven months of fighting. ISIS had seized Sirte in June 2015. After evacuating the city, Libyan authorities detained a number of civilians suspected of ISIS links. Although the majority of the detainees are Libyans, others are from Tunisia, Iraq, Chad, Syria, Eritrea and Niger. Some of the women are believed to have been abducted by ISIS fighters. HRW said authorities have "an obligation to ensure the well-being and security of the women and children" and should not detain them on the basis of suspected relationships to ISIS fighters. HRW urged the government to work with the UN and aid agencies to "find safe destinations for those detained and treat them for injuries, illness, and malnourishment." (HRWAFP, Dec. 25)