Since many years the situation for refugees and migrants in Libya is characterized by daily severe human rights violations. Evacuations to Europe or other safe countries take place only in a very few numbers. Lacking any alternative option of safe passages refugees and migrants have to cross the sea in unseaworthy boats risking their live and threatened by a pull- and push back regime, in which EU-money, -materials and Frontex are playing a crucial role.
Against the background of an unsolved civil war situation with ongoing armed conflicts between various militias also people with Libyan citizenship regularly escape from their country of origin.
We document here the manifesto of Refugees in Libya to highlight the perspective of the most affected, who nevertheless started in 2021 an historical act of self-organization under the harshest conditions and who still and again struggle for the demands mentioned below.
**We are Refugees and we live in Libya.
We come from South, East, Central, and West African countries, the Maghreb region, and the Middle East. We are fleeing from civil wars, persecutions, climate changes, and poverty back in our countries of origin. We were all pushed by circumstances beyond human endurance.
We all had left our homes seeking a second chance for our lives and therefore arrived in Libya. Here we became the hidden workforce of the Libyan economy: we lay bricks and build Libyan houses, we repair and wash Libyan cars, we cultivate and plant fruit and vegetables for Libyan farmers and Libyan dining tables, and we mount satellites on high roofs for the Libyan screens, etc.
Apparently, this is not enough for Libyan authorities. Our workforce is not enough. They want full control of our bodies and dignity. What we found on our arrival was a nightmare made of tortures, rapes, extortions, and arbitrary detentions under a system found and funded by European countries under which Italy signed A memorandum with the Mafia regime of Libya … As a result, more than 24 thousand have died on the Mediterranean sea and thousands more in the Sahel desert while en route to Libya. We suffered every possible and unimaginable human right violation.
Not only once.
We have been forcibly intercepted at sea by the so-called Libyan coast guard - funded by the Italian and European authorities - and then brought back to prisons and inhumane concentration camps. Some of us had to repeat this cycle of humiliation two, three, five, up to ten times.
We tried to raise our voices and spread our stories. We taught these to institutions, politicians, and journalists but apart from very few interested ones, our stories remained unheard. We were deliberately silenced.
But not anymore.
Since the 1st of October 2021, the day that Libyan police and military forces came to our homes in the Gargaresh neighborhood and took ruthless, grave, and merciless crackdowns and mass raids against us. Thousands were arbitrarily arrested and detained in inhumane concentration camps.
The day after, we came as individuals and gathered at the UNHCR headquarters. Here we understood we had no other choice than start organizing ourselves.
We raised our voices and the voices of the voiceless refugees who have been constantly silenced. We started this Movement under the name REFUGEES IN LIBYA because we believe that whoever leaves home is a refugee regardless of the reasons.
Here we are now to claim our rights and seek protection in countries of safety.
Therefore we demand now with our voices:
— Evacuations to lands of safety where our rights will be protected and respected.
— Justice and equality among refugees and asylum seekers who are registered with the UNHCR in Libya.
— The abolishment of funding of the Libyan coast guards who have constantly and forcibly intercepted refugees fleeing the Libyan hell and brought them to Libya where all atrocities befall them.
— The closure of all detention centers across Libya, which are fully funded by the Italian and European Union authorities.
— The authorities should bring the perpetrators to justice who have shot and killed our brothers and sisters both in and out of the detention centers.
— The Libyan authorities to stop arbitrarily detaining persons of concern to the office of UNHCR.
— To call on Libya to sign and ratify the constitution of the 1951 Genève Refugee convention.**