Libya to close three migrant detention centres

African migrants from the Tajoura Detention Centre in Libya in July 2019Image copyright

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Tajoura Detention Centre is close to where Libya’s rival governments are fighting

Libya plans to shut down three of its biggest migration detention centres, the country’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha has announced.

The centres in question are in Misrata, Tajoura and Khoms.

It follows criticism that migrants were being returned to Tajoura after it was hit by a deadly missile attack in July.

That “outrageous” attack could amount to a war crime, said the UN’s Libya envoy Ghassan Salamé and top human rights official Michelle Bachelet.

But the UN Security Council failed to condemn it after the US declined to endorse a joint statement, according to diplomats.

Tajoura Detention Centre is also close to the fighting between the UN-recognised government in the capital, Tripoli, and the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army which has vowed to take over the city.

Organisations that monitor the situation in Libya fear that these closures may lead to the remaining centres becoming even more overcrowded, and also the possibility of many migrants being left in the hands of traffickers.

Only last week, 150 migrants drowned after they left Libya for Italy.

This was the largest loss of life in the Mediterranean Sea this year.