Libya: Dozens of migrants & refugees reportedly killed in airstrike on detention centre

04 Jul 2019

Prince Alfani, Libya medical coordinator for the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), gave the following statement today following a deadly airstrike on a detention centre for migrants and refugees in Tripoli, Libya, where MSF teams have provided medical care.


A woman in the detention centre cells in Libya, September 2018. © Sara Creta / MSF

“Last night's airstrike on Tajoura detention centre in Tripoli, Libya, which reportedly killed dozens of detained migrants and refugees, is a horrific tragedy that could have easily been avoided. There were more than 600 vulnerable men, women, and children trapped in Tajoura detention centre at the time of the attack. Our teams visited the centre earlier yesterday and saw 126 people in the cell that was hit. Those who survived are in absolute fear for their lives.

This is not the first time migrants and refugees have been caught in the crossfire, with multiple airstrikes on or near detention centres across Tripoli since the conflict started in early April. Just eight weeks ago in Tajoura detention centre, shrapnel from a blast tore through the roof of the women’s room and nearly hit an infant. MSF has repeatedly called for the evacuation of migrants and refugees detained in Libya, including in the aftermath of an earlier incident in May when airstrikes hit the Tajoura detention centre compound.

What is needed now is not empty condemnation but the urgent and immediate evacuation of all refugees and migrants held in detentions centres out of Libya. Today, inaction and complacency has needlessly cost the lives of more vulnerable refugees and migrants. The reality is that for every person evacuated or resettled this year, more than twice as many have been forcibly returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard with support from the European Union."