Report: Libya militia holds hostage over 60 migrants, including two dozen children

An aid group reported on Saturday that a Libyan militia allied with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord is holding at least 60 migrants, including two dozen children, in appalling conditions after kidnaping them almost two weeks ago.

According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, masked militiamen kidnaped the migrants on Sept. 28 from the town of al-Ajaylat, around 80 kilometers west of the capital, Tripoli. The statement declared that the armed group holds firstly around 350 migrants, mainly from West Africa, however most of the migrants achieved to escape whereas certain others were free.

The aid group reported that it had informed the Libyan government’s agency for combatting illegal migration two days after the kidnapping, and later visited the warehouse where the migrants were held. Guillaume Baret, MSF’s head of mission in Libya related: We found over 350 women, children, and men sleeping on the ground in appalling living conditions without access to water, showers, or toilets.

The same group said that the militia stole precious items and identification documents from the migrants, before taking them to a warehouse guarded by armed men in the nearby coastal city of Sabratha, which is the biggest starting point for the largely African migrants.

Moreover, the Switzerland-based organization, also known as Doctors without Borders, declared that the remaining detainees are being held by the militia at a former military base.

Two Sabratha residents and one migrant reported that most of the armed men are belonging to a militia known as Al-Ammu, which the UN Panel of Experts on Libya identified in 2017 as the main helpers of human trafficking. The migrant related that the militiamen are trying to take ransom from families of the held migrants, or to sell them to other traffickers.

Otherwise, Al-Ammu and another militia, named the Brigade 48, are directed by two brothers from the area’s large al-Dabashi family. The two militias are allied with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. The residents and migrant are talking with anonymity for fear of revenges. Besides, a spokesman for the Tripoli-based interior ministry didn’t answer phone calls and messages needing comments.

Furthermore, the aid group declared that it’s allowed for its medics to consult only women and children among the captive migrants, and they were not allowed to treat men. It also said that a shooting broke out following a tried escape on Oct. 2, and at least three people were killed.

The group’s statement added: The situation at the warehouse was tense, with armed men firing shots into the air. It should be noted that Libya has emerged as a major transit point for African and Arab migrants fleeing violence and poverty to Europe, after the North African country collapsed into civil war following the overthrow and killing in 2011 of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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