Saturday, June 17, 2017

IOM says 200 migrants being held for ransom and tortured in Libyan detention centre

(Libya Herald)- The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has met with the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to discuss efforts to rescue around mainly 200 Somali and Ethiopian migrants whom it believes have been kidnapped and tortured in a Libyan detention centre.

The migrant’s families at home are said to have received ransom requests from the kidnappers. A Facebook video shows them huddled in various rooms explaining what they have gone through. Some allege that they have not been fed, their arms have been broken and teeth removed.

The location of the detention centre has not been disclosed.
The video is conducted and moderated by an unknown person inside the camp with a Somali journalist based in Turkey asking questions via the internet.

“IOM is currently working closely with all partners in trying to locate the migrants,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Libya. “IOM supports the Libyan efforts in the fight against the smuggling networks and we are very concerned about the current situation.”

One emaciated and malnourished man tells the camera he has been beaten every day and held captive for nearly a year. The gang have asked him or his family for $8,000 to secure his release.

“Seeing a Facebook video of innocent migrants and refugees who have abused and tortured is deeply concerning,” the IOM’s Director of Operations and Emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker, said.

Condemning the way in which social media was being used by criminals to extort money from the families back home, he called on companies, such as Facebook, to do more to monitor and counter such “grave human rights abuses” that ultimately could lead to murder.

Leonard Doyle, chief spokesperson for IOM in Geneva, said: “Social media, including Facebook, has a duty to better police content on its channels. It’s not a new argument and we are not accusing Facebook of complicity in murder. Rather we are saying that these channels are being abused by criminals.”

The news came as it emerged that over 1,000 migrants were recued yesterday some 30 kilometres off the Libyan coast. The Italian coastguard said they picked up the migrants from nine rubber and wooden boats.