Time to evacuate Libyan detention sites

Sir, – Last week’s deadly airstrike on Tajoura detention centre in Libya, which killed at least 60 people and injured many more, was a horrific tragedy which could have been avoided.

This is not the first time that migrants and refugees have been caught in the crossfire in Tripoli, with multiple airstrikes on or near detention centres across the city. Just eight weeks ago in the same detention centre, shrapnel from a blast tore through the roof of the women’s hanger and nearly hit an infant.

Since fighting erupted on April 4th, Médecins Sans Frontières has alerted of the imminent dangers faced on a daily basis by the over 3,000 vulnerable refugees and migrants trapped in detention centres in Tripoli.

We have called for the immediate and urgent evacuation of all refugees and migrants held in detention centres out of Libya, but instead of evacuations, we have witnessed refugees and migrants being transferred from one detention centre to another after being intercepted at sea by the EU-supported Libyan coastguard. (Since April there have been 684 evacuations of refugees and migrants who were trapped in detention centres, out of Libya. At the same time over 2,690 have been intercepted and forcibly returned to Libya. That’s nearly four times as many people that are going in than are being evacuated out).


Refugees and migrants trapped in detention are exceptionally vulnerable because they have no freedom of movement and no freedom of choice in how to seek safety.

Our teams provide much needed healthcare, psychological support and other assistance to people in some detention centres, but what people really need is to get out of the nightmarish situation they are in.

The total inaction and complete lack of urgency to assist people has needlessly cost the lives of vulnerable people trapped in Libyan detention centres.

The roughly 5,800 refugees and migrants detained in Libya must be evacuated and brought to safety, now. – Yours, etc,



Médecins Sans Frontières/

Doctors Without

Borders (MSF) in Ireland,

Upper Baggot Street,

Dublin 4.