|GENEVA, June 10, 2019 -- The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) said Friday it is "deeply concerned about the ghastly conditions" in which migrants and refugees are being held in detention in Libya.
UN rights office spokesperson Rupert Colville said at a UN briefing here that some 22 migrants and refugees have died of tuberculosis and other illnesses in the Zintan detention facility in northwest Libya since September.
The agency said it has ongoing reports of disappearances and human trafficking after people were intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard.
"During a recent visit to the Zintan Detention Centre, where 654 refugees and migrants are held, we found them severely malnourished, lacking water, locked in overcrowded warehouses reeking with the smell of rubbish and waste from overflowing latrines," said Colville.
So far this year, a total of more than 2,300 people have been picked up off the coast of Libya and put in detention facilities, said the rights office.
The Libyan Coast Guard reports that since April 30, it has delivered hundreds of people to a facility in Al-Khoms, which is under the oversight of the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM).
The number includes 203 people who were delivered there on May 23.
"However, the Al-Khoms facility reports that there are currently only 30 migrants present. This is particularly worrying given reports that migrants are being sold for forced labor or to smugglers promising transit to Europe," said Colville.
He said there were also reports that some women have been sold for sexual exploitation.
"We have long documented the kinds of horrific abuses to which migrants and refugees are subjected in Libya," said the UNHCHR spokesperson.