Migrants in Libya have been exposed to of abuse that force many to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, Amnesty International claims. Libya, once a stepping stone to Europe, has become a dangerous trap.
A report publicshed by Amnesty said many were being forced to risk their lives in dangerous Mediterranean crossings because of the cruelty, abuse and chaos they found in Libya.
The group said the situation had worsened since NATO-backed uprisings in 2011,which toppled the veteran dictator Moammar Gadhafi without establishing a succession government that was able to hold the country together.
With powerful militias battling each other for control of the country's considerable oil wealth, people smugglers and traffickers have sought to take advantage of the chaos.
"The ghastly conditions for migrants, coupled with spiraling lawlessness and armed conflicts raging within the country, make clear just how dangerous life in Libya is today," said the group's Philip Luther.
"With no legal avenues to escape and seek safety, they are forced to place their lives in the hands of smugglers who callously extort, abuse and attack them."
Bombs, but no plans
Luther blamed the international community of standing by and failing to help the migrants, since the end of the military campaign against Gadhafi. The report also said people were facing "indefinite detention in deplorable conditions" in immigration detention centers in the North African country.
"Asylum-seekers and migrants are among the most vulnerable people in Libya and their plight must not be ignored,” said Luther.
Libya was once a natural stopping-off point for migrants planning to travel to the EU, with large established communities of migrants often working to save money there.
However, the breakdown of government has meant there are few opportunities and greater danger. It has allowed people traffickers to attempt to smuggle migrants to the EU from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel, and the Middle East with impunity.
While Amnesty has said the smugglers should be tackled, it said this would not work without providing safe, alternative forms of transport to Europe. Amnesty also said Tunisia and Egypt should ease border restrictions with Libya to provide migrants with a haven.
Libyan officials have said that 7,000 illegal migrants are being held in 16 centers across the country, awaiting deportation.