| 27 May 2024, Monday |

45 Egyptians held in notorious Libya detention centre after being rescued at sea

After their boat capsized last week 45 Egyptians are being held in Libya, and 18 of the people on board with them drowned.

According to a report by Madr Masr, Libyan authorities are now holding the survivors, who are mainly from Mansoura, in five by eight metre cells in the city of Zawiya where they have confiscated their phones and cash.

Two of the survivors managed to escape being detained by handing over 5,000 Libyan dinars ($1,106) to an official.

One week after they were rescued at sea, 11 Egyptians drowned off the coast of Libya after their boat, which was bound for Italy, sank.

Relatives of the victims say they paid a smuggler in their home village Tilbana, which is also in Mansoura, 25,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,593) each to travel to Libya and a further 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,911) each to go on to Italy, Egypt Watch reports.

The smuggler was later arrested by Egyptian security forces.

For years rights groups and UN bodies have highlighted and documented evidence of abuse inside detention centres for refugees across Libya including beatings, sexual violence, extortion and forced labour.

Refugees placed in these centres are being forcibly returned to Libya if they fail to reach Europe across the Mediterranean.

EU member states back the Libyan coastguard in stopping people crossing the Med, despite these disturbing reports.

Libya has become a gateway for refugees to pass through on their way to Europe as it is close to the Italian coast. People smugglers have taken advantage of the turmoil there following the 2011 military intervention in the north African state.

Some 1,311 deaths have been recorded so far this year by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), double the number reported over the same period last year.

Over the weekend 600 Egyptian and Moroccan refugees arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa.