…UNHCR, IOM, UN and U.S. also condemn migrant-facility bombing***
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday condemned a deadly airstrike on a migrant centre near Tripoli, Libya, during which over 44 people died and 130 others were severely injured. Many of those killed and injured were Nigerians, sheltering in a migrant detention centre, in a suburb of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Photos and video posted online, showed women and children were among the dead, while hospitals and medical centres in and around Tripoli were flooded with badly wounded victims of the attack.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja said the President described the attack as “inhuman, wicked and callous”, noting it as an attack on “helpless and defenceless people”, and called for an international investigation, stressing that those behind the death and injury of scores of migrants must be made to face justice.
Speaking in the same vein, the International Organisations on Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have also condemned Tuesday night’s attack on civilians at the Tajoura detention centre, East of Tripoli.
Leonard Doyle, IOM’s Information Officer in Geneva, in a statement published on the organisation’s website on Wednesday stated that the two organisations are calling for immediate end to detention of migrants and refugees.
“UNHCR and IOM believe a full and independent investigation is required to determine how this happened and who was responsible, and to bring those individuals to account.
“Coordinates of such centres in Tripoli are well known to combatants, who also know those detained at Tajoura are civilians.
“Nonetheless, such an attack deserves more than condemnation; Tajoura held at least 600 migrants and refugees including women and children.
“The airstrike that left scores dead, also left dozens injured, for that reason, we expect the final death toll to include many more victims including those victims at Tajoura,” he added.
He stated that 3,300 migrants and refugees remained arbitrarily detained inside and around Tripoli in conditions that could only be described as inhumane. Doyle further said that migrants and refugees faced increasing risks as clashes intensified, adding that the detention centres should be closed down.
“We remind all parties to this conflict that civilians must not be targets and must be protected under both International Refugee Law and International Human Rights Law,” he added.
The ongoing conflict in the Libyan capital has forced nearly 100,000 people to flee their homes and as a result, “UNHCR with partners that include IOM has relocated more than 1,500 refugees from detention centres near combat to safer areas.
“Separately, in 2019, IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return operations have assisted in the departure of more than 5,000 vulnerable individuals returning to 30 countries of origin in Africa and Asia.
“Moreover, we urgently call on the international community to provide humanitarian corridors for migrants and refugees to be evacuated out of Libya.
Already, the United States has also “strongly condemned” the bombing of the Libyan migrant detention facility, wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.
No one has claimed responsibility for the strikes, but accusing fingers are pointing at the air force of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a warlord in eastern Libya.
The U.S. government’s reaction came in a statement by the Department of State signed by Morgan Deann Ortagus, one of its spokespersons.
Ortagus said, “We extend our deepest condolences to families of those killed and wish a speedy recovery to those injured.
“This tragic and needless loss of life, which impacted one of the most vulnerable populations, underscores the urgent need for all Libyan parties to de-escalate fighting in Tripoli and return to the political process, which is the only viable path to lasting peace and stability in Libya.”
Fighting has been raging around Tripoli since April 3 when Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), an ally of a parallel administration based in Benghazi, launched an offensive to take control of Tripoli from the UN-support unity government.
Earlier, the United Nations expressed outrage over the attack, calling for an independent inquiry into the incident.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said he was “outraged by reports that women and children were among the victims.
He condemned the “horrendous incident in the strongest terms”, and expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, while wishing the injured a speedy recovery.