MSF is currently working to provide medical help to people trapped in appalling conditions in Libyan detention centres.
People are detained simply because of their migration status in overcrowded conditions with a lack of access to sufficient food, water or medical treatment.
A recent assessment of just one of these centres found alarming levels of malnutrition, with some people held in a room so small there was no space to lie down.
Worse still, one third of the people detained indefinitely in this centre were children.
Women and child survivors of a shipwreck are kept in a detention centre in Khoms. September 2018. © Sara Creta/MSF
But in recent days, things have got even worse. Fighting in and around Libya’s capital Tripoli has put nearly 3,400 refugees and migrants at even greater risk of violence.
Trapped in the centres and at severe risk of being caught in the crossfire, they are unable to flee the fighting and are also suffering from increased disruption to food and other supplies – some report not having eaten for days.
Our teams are doing what they can to help, but in the long term, things are unlikely to improve for refugees and migrants as long as the UK and other European Governments continue to support policies with trap them in Libya.
The UK has long been a supporter of this policy: it has used public money to fund and train the Libyan Coastguard, who forcibly return people trying to escape these appalling conditions, and in some cases have threatened vessels trying to rescue people from drowning.
"It’s our responsibility to share these stories, to expose this terrible cycle of violence that European countries are deliberately feeding in the name of 'managing' migration"
Meanwhile, criminalisation of and attacks on independent search and rescue by European governments mean people who are not intercepted by the coastguard are more likely to die at sea. Currently, there are virtually no NGO rescue ships left at sea.
Britain needs to take a public stand against these harmful policies, and back dedicated search and rescue in the Mediterranean for those trying to flee.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
We have raised our concerns repeatedly with ministers, but now we need your help.
Please join us in asking the British Government to support the urgent humanitarian evacuation out of Libya of refugees and migrants held in detention centres, before the conflict further deteriorates.
The best way to do this is to write to your MP, asking them to raise these issues with the ministers responsible.
Click the link below to open a pre-worded email. Please add your MP's name to the text, as well as your own - and feel free to include your own views on this issue.
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We need to see the UK commit to resettling vulnerable refugees and migants from Libya; and taking a share of those rescued at sea who make it to Europe.
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