from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – SOME 145 Sudanese nationals risk unlawful detention in harsh conditions, torture and ill-treatment after Niger deported them back to Libya.
The refugees had been living in a displacement camp in the central Nigerien city of Agadez after fleeing the crisis-torn Libya.
Authorities have rounded the Sudanese nationals up, packed them onto trucks and driven them back to the North African country.
Rights groups have accused Niger of violating principles of asylum and refugee protection by expelling the asylum seekers.
Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher, said investigations had shown migrants and refugees were subject to torture, detention and extortion in Libya.
“Libya is simply not a safe country,” Mootoo said.
The researcher urged Niger to honor its international obligations to protect the rights of all refugees or migrants and ensure they were not exploited and abused.
The Nigerien government confirmed the deportation, accusing the Sudanese of possible membership to armed groups threatened the security of Niger.
Libya is suffering civil strife after the overthrow of the then President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
It is a risky gateway to Europe for African migrants seeking better economic opportunities overseas.
Last Thursday, the United Nations Refugee Agency evacuated 132 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to the Niger capital, Niamey.
“Refugees detained in Libya are languishing in extreme conditions that threaten their life and wellbeing,” said Vincent Cochetel, the agency’s envoy for the Mediterranean.
– CAJ News