The United Nations (UN) migration agency says African migrants who were rejected by Italy last week said they had been held by smugglers for up to two years in Libya and many had been beaten, tortured and raped.
Spokesman for the International Organization for Migration Joel Millman told a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, the 190 migrants, mainly Eritreans and Somalis, were rescued in the Mediterranean on August 15.
‘‘All were described as malnourished and exhausted, they said they had been arbitrarily, held by, they call it arbitrarily detention but for up to two years, many, many between one and two years, possibly some shorter but the longest anyone had been held is about two years in Libya. They complained that many had been beaten and tortured by smugglers and traffickers seeking ransom money from their families in their countries of origin. And we understand that Italian doctors who attended all the women on the (inaudible) report that many of them has said they have been raped while in Libya”, Millman said.
Millman said, the UN agency staff had gathered testimony from the migrants and that all were malnourished and exhausted. He said they had been held against their will in Libya for up to two years.
27 unaccompanied minors and 13 people needing urgent hospital treatment had earlier been allowed ashore in Italy but the remaining 150 waited 10 days while Italy’s anti-immigrant government refused to let them disembark.
Ireland, Albania and the Vatican later agreed to accept them.Millman said, IOM believes thousands of migrants were still being detained, held in safehouses or warehoused, but getting people to the shore had recently become more difficult because of violence in the west of the country.