North Africa
libya protest

Migrant protest camp broken up in Libya

More than 600 asylum-seekers and migrants were detained when Libyan security forces cleared a protest encampment in front of an aid center run by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in the capital city of Tripoli. The protesters—who were asking for protection, and evacuation from Libya—had been camped out since last October, when Libyan security forces violently rounded up more than 5,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, forcing them into notoriously grim detention centers. Before the raid on the protest camp, UNHCR permanently closed the center in Tripoli, leaving thousands without humanitarian assistance. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the most recent arrests were the “culmination of a disastrous situation,” and Médecins Sans Frontières called on the EU to “stop supporting…an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya.” The EU backs the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted more than 32,000 asylum-seekers and migrants at sea last year, returning them to detention centers. (Photo: Kaka Fur via InfoMigrants)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: political crisis deepens

Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison, convicted of “undermining the external security of the State.” The charge is evidently a reference to his calls on social media for protest against current President Kaïs Saied, and for an end to French support of Saied’s regime. Marzouki calls Saied a “dictator,” and accuses him of having conducted a coup when he suspended parliament and fired the prime minister amid a wave of national unrest in July. (Image: Pixabay)

North Africa

Libya: unrest as elections postponed

Several Libyan parliamentary candidates are calling for nationwide protests over the cancellation of the country’s long-awaited presidential election. The electoral commission has proposed putting off the polls for a month, citing lack of preparedness amid bureaucratic chaos. But the postponement threatens the country’s fragile peace deal. Clashes broke out last week in the southern city of Sabha between local security forces and fighters loyal to eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, who has announced his candidacy for president. Another presidential hopeful is Saif al-Islam Qaddafi—who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed during the revolution that overthrew his father 10 years ago. Also running is current interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. All three have faced challenges to their right to run, and Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over whether the elections can be free and fair given the atmosphere of insecurity and repression. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
sfax

Tunisia: uprising over waste disposal crisis

Anger over a regional garbage crisis in Tunisia exploded into street clashes after a man died following exposure to tear-gas during protests against the reopening of a landfill site. Abderrazek Lacheheb, 35, died in the town of Aguereb in the coastal region of Sfax, punctuating weeks of demonstrations over a growing waste and public health crisis. The powerful UGTT trade union confederation announced a general strike the day after his passing, condemning the “savage intervention by security forces.” (Photo: Leaders.com.tn)

North Africa
libya

Crimes against humanity in Libya?

At least six people were killed and dozens more wounded by guards who opened fire at asylum seekers and migrants attempting to escape en masse from an overcrowded detention center in Tripoli. This came after Libyan authorities rounded up and detained at least 5,000 asylum seekers and migrants in the capital. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council said it believes “crimes against humanity” have been committed in Libya’s detention centers. So far this year, more than 26,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard and returned to the centers, where they face a well-documented cycle of abuse. Despite human rights concerns, the EU executive body, the European Commission, is preparing to deliver new patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
Hirak

Algeria: protest dissolution of civil society group

Five international rights groups are urging Algerian authorities to drop their effort to dissolve a prominent civil society group over alleged violation of the “law on associations.” The five groups—Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the MENA Rights Group—say the government’s move “threatens freedom of association.” A appeals tribunal in Algiers upheld a petition to dissolve the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (Youth Action Rally, or RAJ). The petition claimed that the group’s political activities violated the purposes set forth in its own bylaws. RAJ leaders said that authorities targeted the association due to its support of the Hirak pro-democracy movement. (Photo: Faten Aggad/Africa Arguments)

North Africa
Libya detention

Migrants ‘disappearing’ in Libya

Of more than 24,000 asylum seekers and migrants intercepted at sea this year by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard, only 6,000 are accounted for in Libya’s official detention centers, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told the Associated Press. The fate of thousands of others returned to the country remains unknown. The situation has been worsening for months. The IOM warned last year of returnees vanishing from Interior Ministry “data-collection facilities,” and said it suspected that thousands are being sold to human traffickers. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

North Africa
kabylia fire

Algiers plays politics with Morocco as Kabylia burns

At least 90 people have been killed in wildfires that have swept through northern Algeria over the past weeks. The blazes have consumed some 100,000 acres, mostly in the northeastern Kabylia region. While remaining silent on the role of climate change, the Algerian government is exploiting the disaster for political purposes. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said the fires were “criminal” in origin, and blamed them on regional rival Morocco. Authorities have arrested several presumed members of the Kabylia Self-Determination Movement (MAK), a civil organization seeking independence for the predominantly Berber region. The DGSN security agency said the suspects were part of a “terrorist organization.” Last month, Algiers recalled its ambassador in Rabat in protest of Moroccan diplomatic statements in support of self-determination for the Berbers of Kabylia. (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: president accused of ‘coup’

Tunisian President Kais Saied was accused by opposition parties of launching a “coup” with the help of the country’s military after firing the prime minister and freezing parliament. The move comes after anti-government protesters took over the streets of the capital Tunis, expressing dismay over ongoing economic turmoil and a demonstrably poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund aimed at controlling mass inflation further raised the ire of Tunisians; terms require Tunisia to raise taxes, set higher prices on goods, and implement austerity policies reducing public-sector employment and programs. (Image: Pixabay)

North Africa
Libya detainee

Libya: ‘horrific violations’ in migrant detention

Fresh evidence of harrowing violations, including sexual violence, against men, women and children intercepted while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and forcibly returned to detention centers in Libya, highlights the grave consequences of Europe’s ongoing cooperation with Libyan authorities on migration and border control, said Amnesty International in a report. Since late 2020, Libya’s Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration, a department of the interior ministry, has “legitimized abuse” by integrating two new detention centers under its structure where hundreds of refugees and migrants had been “forcibly disappeared” in previous years by militias. Amnesty is calling on European states to suspend cooperation on migration and border control with Libya. (Photo: Alessio Romenz/UNICEF)

North Africa

Will Biden reverse Trump policy on Western Sahara?

US-led forces are currently carrying out war games in Morocco, the periodic “Afrian Lion” exercises—this year taking place near the disputed region of Western Sahara. Morocco is trumpeting this as a re-affirmation of US recognition of its claim to the territory. The Trump administration last year formally recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for Moroccan diplomatic recognition of Israel as a part of the so-called Abraham Accords. But Spain, the disputed territory’s former colonial ruler, is opposing Morocco’s current push for international recognition of its claim. Just before the war games opened, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya called US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to reverse Washington’s recognition of Moroccan rule in Western Sahara. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Europe
migrants

UN report blames EU and Libya for migrant deaths

Policy decisions of European Union member states and Libya have caused thousands of deaths along the central Mediterranean migrant route, according to a report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. At least 2,239 migrants died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe last year. In 2021 alone, at least 632 have died along the route. According to the report, the deaths were not a “tragic anomaly,” and could have been prevented. The lack of human rights protection for migrants during their journey is a consequence of the “concrete policy decisions and practices” of Libyan authorities, the EU, and its member states. (Photo: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons)