PARIS: Aid group Doctors Without Borders has urged the evacuation of thousands of migrants trapped in detention centers in Libya’s capital Tripoli, which is under a fragile cease-fire after deadly clashes.
The cease-fire brokered by the UN was agreed between armed groups on Tuesday after at least 63 people were killed in days of fighting around the city.
Doctors Without Borders, also known under its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said migrants in squalid detention centers close to the frontline could yet come under shelling and artillery fire.
Analysts say the cease-fire is doomed without a sustainable political agreement between the myriad armed groups.
Ibrahim Younis, MSF’s mission chief in Libya, said food supplies to the detention centers were sparse as international groups had been forced to suspend their work due to the clashes.
The charity has been completely cut off from one of the most crowded detention centers, depriving some 700 people of aid, and has pulled some staff from the city.
The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, last week said it had “evacuated” some 300 migrants from the Ain Zara detention center to another a few kilometers away as they risked getting caught in the crossfire.
But Younis said this was not good enough.
“Moving endangered refugees and migrants from one detention center to another in the same conflict zone cannot be described as an evacuation and it is certainly not a solution,” he said in a statement.
The aid group called on the UNHCR and the governments of peaceful countries to organize a mass evacuation for the migrants, who could then claim asylum.
The International Organization for Migration could arrange for those seeking to return home to do so, MSF said.
The group also called on the EU and Libyan authorities to stop blocking boatloads of migrants seeking to flee the conflict-torn country, “with the goal of reducing arrivals to Europe at all costs.”
Sub-Saharan African migrants have suffered appalling abuses since Libya descended into chaos following the death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
A video showing African migrants being sold as slaves sparked global outrage last year.
Some 8,000 people picked up by the Libyan coast guard while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe are being indefinitely held in detention centers, according to the UNHCR.
EU countries have offered support and training to the Libyan coast guard in a bid to stem the influx of migrants to Europe.