CAIRO (AP) — A migrant worker was burned to death in the Libyan capital, UN and government officials said Wednesday, the latest in abuses that migrants and refuges face in the conflict-stricken country.
The Interior Ministry of the UN-supported government said three Libyans on Tuesday stormed a factory in the Tripoli neighborhood of Tajoura, where African migrants were working. The Libyans detained one the workers, a Nigerian, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire, the ministry said in a statement. No motive for the shocking crime was given.
Three other migrants suffered burns and were being treated in a nearby hospital, the ministry said. The alleged perpetrators, all in their 30s, were arrested and referred to prosecutors for investigation, it said.
“The young man was burned alive, in yet again another senseless crime against migrants in the country,” tweeted Federico Soda, the chief in Libya for the International Organization for Migration.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “Sometimes you run out of adjectives to describe what we see in all too many places.”
“The people responsible for such a heinous attack need to be brought to justice,” he said. “This underscores, as if we needed to underscore yet again, how unsafe Libya is for migrants, for refugees, and how much the authorities on the ground still need to do to ensure the protection of these vulnerable people.”
The migrant’s death underscores the perils that migrants face in Libya, which has emerged as a major transit point for African and Arab migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe amid years-long chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
In 2017, CNN aired a video of a slave auction in Libya where migrant Africans were “sold like goats,” causing global outrage, and led the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to condemn “heinous abuses of human rights.”
In May, the family of a slain Libyan human trafficker attacked a group of migrants in the desert town of Mizdah, shooting and killing at least 30 migrants. mostly from Bangladesh, according to the UN migration agency.
In July, Libyan authorities shot dead three Sudanese migrants in the western coastal town of Khoms. The migrants were reportedly trying to escape after they were intercepted by the Libyan coast guard in the Mediterranean Sea and returned to shore.
So far in 2020, the UN migration agency has reported around 200 deaths of migrants in Libya and at least 275 missing in the Mediterranean Sea. Around 9,500 were returned to Libya this year, compared to 9,225 in 2019. The bodies of 11 migrants washed up on Libyan shores between September 28 and October 5, it said Tuesday.
Migrants typically pass through Libya on their way to Europe, departing from Tripoli’s rocky coastline in inflatable dinghies.
The Libyan coast guard, trained by the European Union to keep migrants from reaching European shores, intercepts boats at sea and returns them to Libya.
Rights groups say those efforts have left migrants at the mercy of brutal armed groups or confined in squalid and overcrowded detention centers that lack adequate food and water.
The EU agreed earlier this year to end an anti-migrant smuggler operation involving only surveillance aircraft and instead deploy military ships to concentrate on upholding a widely flouted UN arms embargo that’s considered key to winding down Libya’s relentless war.