Europe-bound Migrants Held in Libyan Detention Center

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Misrata, Libya
April 21, 2015

Dozens of men, women and children are held in deplorable conditions in a jail in Misrata, controlled by the security forces loyal to the Islamist Libyan government in Tripoli. The detainees who appear in this video, most of whom come from east African countries, were caught in Libya on their way to try to reach Europe. An office that controls immigration is deporting the detainees to their countries through their countries’ embassies in Tunisia. However, Somalian and Eritrean detainees cannot return because of the instability plaguing their countries. Some of them have been in this prison for five months.

An interviewed female detainee from Eritrea, who introduced herself as Yodit, said that she was arrested with her cousin and other immigrants in the Libyan desert as they were heading to Europe. The group had started their clandestine journey in Khartoum, Sudan. Yodit said that they spent one month on the road before being arrested. By the time of the interview, she had spent two weeks in custody and was worried that her family back home might think that she was dead. The woman, who appears to be in her twenties, also complained that the detention center is overcrowded and lacks proper ventilation.

Various shots of detainees.

Soundbite (Arabic/English, Woman) Yodit, Female Eritrean detainee

00:48 – 04:14

"Q: What is your name? [Arabic]

A: What? [Arabic]

Q: Your name. [Arabic]

A: Yodit.

Q: How long have you been here?

A: Just one week.

Q: One week?

A: Yeah.

Q: Where are you from?

A: From Eritrea.

Q: You came by… the desert?

A: Yeah, the desert.

Q: How exactly? Through which country?

A: By the Khartoum to the Libya desert. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] When [we] came here, they catch us.

Q: Where?

A: In the desert of Libya.

Q: Where?

A: In Libya, but the place exactly, what it’s called…. I don’t know.

Q: In the desert, or a gate?

A: Desert, desert.

Q: The desert?

A: Yeah.

Q: Is it near from here?

A: I think [it is] far.

Q: One hour? Two hours? How much time?

A: Four hours from here.

Q: And then what are you doing here? What did they tell you?

A: We want to travel to Europe. So they catch us, they arrest us… even before here, just one week another place, the place which kept us. We came also here one week. That means two weeks under arrest. So they… you see they are stand up all night here. The [UNINTELLIGIBLE] is bad It smells bad all night. There is no air. The place is bad, really. [UNINTELLIGIBLE]The condition is bad, seriously.

Q: What did they tell you? Did they tell you that they are going out? Did they call your embassy?

A: No. No phone. We families don’t know where we are.

Q: They didn’t call your families?

A: Yeah. Because we don’t have a phone here. So no one knows where they are. I don’t know. Maybe our families they think [we] die or something.

Q: You are here alone? You don’t have any family here?

A: She’s my cousin. So we are two.

Q: Now you are here for one week.

A: Here. But another place also one week. The way…. but one month is in the way in the desert. We are hungry, there is no water, there is no anything. We were about to die. But that is good, they save us and keep us here. But I don’t know [UNINTELLIGIBLE] about time I don’t know anything.

Q: Thank you.

A: You’re welcome. Thank you, too.”


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