Militias evict and disperse 1,900 displaced people in Libya

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A displaced woman speaks to a man wearing a blue UNHCR vest in front of her collapsed shelter in Triq al Matar settlement in Libya.

A Tawargha woman stands in front of her house in Triq al Matar settlement in Libya, which was demolished at night by a local militia intent on forcing her leave the settlement.  © UNHCR/Tarik Argaz

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned about the forced eviction by militias of 1,900 internally displaced persons from Triq Al Matar settlement in Tripoli, Libya. Triq Al Matar was the largest IDP settlement in Tripoli, hosting 370 families originally from the city of Tawergha who had been living in the settlement since it was established in 2011.

According to residents, a local militia forced the entire population of Triq Al Matar to flee their homes last week, following three nights of indiscriminate raiding and the arbitrary arrest of 94 residents, 12 of whom remain detained by the militia in dismal conditions. Some women and girls were threatened with rape and the IDPs had to flee their homes at short notice, taking only a few belongings with them.

The IDPs are now dispersed, living in various areas in which they have relatives or acquaintances, including other IDP settlements. Some families who owned cars are now sleeping in them.

UNHCR is concerned that IDPs moving to other settlements in Tripoli are at risk of further eviction. Some families from Tawergha living in other settlements in Tripoli have already fled their homes for fear of being attacked. UNHCR calls for the respect of human rights, the protection of civilians and for the right of displaced persons to decide about their own future. UNHCR is closely following-up on the situation and liaising with all parties to ensure that the main needs of IDPs are met and any future evictions are prevented.

The people of Tawergha are an ethnic minority – approximately 40,000 people – who were forced to flee their homes in 2011. The majority of them sought refuge in informal settlements around Tripoli or Benghazi. They have now been internally displaced for seven years and are waiting to return home following a recent agreement by the parties involved.

In Libya, some 192,000 displaced people have been living in dire conditions for years. UNHCR calls for urgent solutions to end their suffering and return home in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner.

 

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