UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling for an independent investigation of the “outrageous” bombing of a migrant detention center at Tajoura, outside Libya’s capital Tripoli July 2. The attack killed at least 44 migrants and refugees, including women and children, and injured more than 130. Guterres noted that the UN had given its exact coordinates to the warring parties in the ongoing Libyan conflict. This was also emphasized by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which said in a statement: “Coordinates of such centres in Tripoli are well known to combatants, who also know those detained at Tajoura are civilians.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said, with requisite caution: “This attack may, depending on the precise circumstances, amount to a war crime.”
Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) issued a statement blaming warlord Khalifa Haftar and his self-proclaimed Libyan National Army for the air-strike, and called for the UN support mission to urgently establish a fact-finding committee to investigate. (CBC, BBC News, Libyan Express)
Haftar, whose forces have for months been attempting to seize Tripoli, is believed to be supported by France and Russia. He has now also apparently established contact with Washington. The White House admitted on April 19 that President Trump had spoken by phone with Haftar that week and discussed “ongoing counter-terrorism efforts.” A White House statement said that in the call, Trump “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.” (Reuters, April 19)
Egypt has also been accused of backing Haftar, and the head of the GNA’s High Council of State accused Egypt of the Tajoura bombing. “The country that is currently presiding over the African Union is the same country that bombarded the African immigrants last night in Tajura.” Khalid al-Mishri said on Twitter (Libyan Express)
International rights groups have long been protesting the ghastly conditions faced by thousands of detained migrants in Libya.
Photo via Libya Observer
Did guards fire on fleeing migrants at bombed detention center?
The United Nations says it has information that Libyan guards opened fire on migrants and refugees trying to flee air strikes that killed at least 60 people and wounded 77 others at a detention centre near the capital, Tripoli. Security guards at the bombed-out facility interviewed by Al Jazeera denied the accusations.
Two attacks hit an unoccupied garage and a hangar holding about 120 people in the centre in Tajoura, east of Tripoli, a report from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. “There are reports that following the first impact, some refugees and migrants were fired upon by guards as they tried to escape,” it said.
There were also accusations that the militia in control of the facility conscripted detainees there for forced labor in a weapons workshop. (Al Jazeera)
Libya shipwreck: Scores of migrants feared drowned
At least 115 people are missing, feared drowned, after a boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Libya. A local official said 134 people were rescued and a body recovered. The boat was carrying some 250 people from a number of African and Arab countries when it sank 8 kilometers from the coast. The UN refugee agency said it was the deadliest shipwreck in the Mediterranean so far this year. (BBC News)