Possible Libyan Mass Forced Deportation Of Eritrean Refugees

Three weeks ago the UNHCR, without any explanation, was given
its marching orders by the authorities in Tripoli
. Now the reason
appears to be plain: clearing the way for possible mass forced
expulsions of the thousands of imprisoned refugees in the country.

[nobordersbrighton.blogspot.com] At
dawn yesterday
, the 2 container lorries carrying around 300
Eritrean refugees, including women and at least 50 children, left the
notorious Misratah detention camp, heading south to the interior of the
country. All the refugees had been victims of Italy’s ‚push back‘
policy, intercepted on the journey from the Libyan coast towards
Lampedusa and forced back into the arms of the Libyan police and

had also collectively refused orders to give their identities to the
Eritrean embassy, fearing that it was the first step to a collective
expulsion according to the Fortress Europe website. Fearing the worst,
many had tried to escape but were caught and beaten by guards. Tensions
between the guards and detainees lead to further clashes, which were
brutally put down by security forces.

So, on the night of the
29th, a Libyan army unit had raided the cells confiscating all mobile
phones. They then herded everybody together, including 30 people who had
sustained serious injuries in previous clashes and forced them into the
converted shipping containers for the 12 hours journey to Sabha,
deep in the Sahara desert
. Many of the women and children are
understood to have suffered from heat stroke in the cramped, hot and
airless conditions in these
glorified metal boxes.

The fate of the detainees is uncertain
and, whilst the Libyans supposedly officially suspended deportations to
Asmara three years ago, forced overland removal remains a possibility*.
Although sources in Libya also claim that the mass transportation may be
in punishment for the migrants‘ resistance and as a prelude to being
broken up into smaller groups and relocated to other prisons

Libya faces a growing problem with all the migrants are entering the
country enroute to Europe but are now unable to make it anywhere other
than into Libyan prisons and detention camps. Italy and the rest of
Europe, in the form of Frontex and the International Organisation for
Migration, may well be paying for many of the costs of running Libya’s
extensive detention system but the detainee population cannot go on
growing without serious consequences and Libya may well be on the verge
of resorting to a ‚radical‘ and highly controversial solution: mass
forced expulsions.

* Eritrea is a single party state run by
the PFDJ and military conscription is universal and effectively
life-long. Many of the refugees in the Libyan camps have fled Eritrea to
avoid conscription and all returned refugees are subject to arrest and imprisoned
in forced labour camps
. Many of these have been used to build the
hotels and infrastructure that have sprung up along the Red Sea coast to
cater for the country’s burgeoning tourist industry. And because of the
political situation in Eritrea, many countries have no extradition
arrangements with the country.
So, whilst Libya has never been
particularly interested in the views of the rest of the world when it
comes to the fate of refugees and prisoners in its jails, Libya has
superficially followed this convention. We say superficially, as
reportedly it has a tacit agreement with Eritrea to return its nationals
and, according to the U.S.
Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
, it has "allowed the IOM to open an EU-funded centre
in March 2008 to return migrants as “a complementary concept to
" Additionally, in January this year it secretly
deported 12 Eritreans
who had previously been either government
officials or in the military. Their fate is unknown.

Source: http://nobordersbrighton.blogspot.com/2010/07/possible-libyan-mass-forced-deportation.html