The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) wants thousands of refugees who escaped from detention centres during clashes between militia in Tripoli to be directed to a facility in the capital to help them to safety.
The UNHCR recommended “immediate use of the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, which will serve as a platform to find safety in third countries”.
The facility is ready to use and can host a thousand vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. It is managed by the Ministry of Interior and the UNHCR, the agency said in a statement.
Recent fighting pitted two of the capital’s largest armed groups – the Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades and the Nawasi – against the Seventh Brigade from Tarhouna, south-east of Tripoli.
Refugees and asylum seekers in the city are exposed to atrocities including rape, kidnapping and torture, the UNHCR said.
One woman said unknown criminals kidnapped her husband and then raped her and tortured her one-year-old baby, the agency said.
It said detention centres from which the refugees escaped remained at risk of being hit by rockets.
Conflicts among militias are at the heart of a conflict dividing Libya since an uprising which forced leader Muammar Gaddafi from power seven years ago.
The UNHCR also called for action to hold smugglers and traffickers accountable after receiving “reliable reports” of them impersonating UNHCR staff at disembarkation platforms and migrant hubs.
“UNHCR information comes from refugees who report being sold to traffickers in Libya and subjected to abuse and torture, including after being intercepted at sea,” it said, adding investigations of these allegations are ongoing.