September 29, 2021
Almost three months after the suspension of medical activities in two detention centers in Tripoli, Libya, following a series of worrying incidents, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has resumed work in these centers, to provide life-saving medical care for detained migrants and refugees. We also resumed our activities in a third detention center, to which we had lost access during the same period.
This development comes after recent talks between MSF and the Libyan Directorate for the Fight against Illegal Migration (DCIM), during which we were assured that certain basic conditions would be met in the detention centers, allowing us to resume our work. activities in accordance with medical ethics and humanitarian principles. .
These conditions include: preventing the use of violence against detainees and ensuring the safety of MSF teams; allow our medical staff unhindered and sustained access to detention centers; allow detained persons unrestricted access to our medical services; and guarantee full respect for the medical confidentiality of persons detained in detention centers.
On September 15, our teams resumed visits to mobile clinics in Al-Mabani (Ghout al-Sha’al), Abu Salim and Shara Zawiya detention centers in Tripoli. Our teams were able to provide much-needed medical care, including psychosocial support, to the men, women and children held in these facilities, who would otherwise have very limited access to health care.
During this first week, our doctors examined and treated 404 patients, including 30 children under the age of 15. The patients mainly suffered from skin diseases, gastrointestinal disturbances and upper respiratory tract infections – conditions which are attributable to the poor conditions in which they are kept. Our medical team also facilitated the emergency referral of 28 patients to receive emergency medical care in clinics supported by MSF.
While welcoming the assurances given by the Libyan authorities that they would address the concerns that forced us to suspend our activities last June, allowing us once again to provide essential medical care to those detained, we continue to strongly call for the end of this system of arbitrary and unlimited detention in Libya.
MSF also reiterates its calls for the closure of these detention centers, the release of all those detained there, and that adequate humanitarian assistance and protection services be provided to them upon their release, including a urgent voluntary repatriation and resettlement outside Libya.
MSF has been working in detention centers in Libya since 2016, providing people with basic health care and psychosocial support. MSF teams also identify vulnerable people and refer patients requiring specialized care to hospitals in Libya.
Between January and August 2021, MSF teams working in Tripoli detention centers provided medical care to more than 10,000 patients, carried out 10,910 medical consultations and facilitated the referral of 439 patients to specialized care in hospitals and clinics in Tripoli.
In Zuwara, a new MSF program provides medical, psychosocial and protection services to refugee and migrant communities. In Bani Walid, MSF teams provide general health care and medical referrals to refugees and migrants who have escaped captivity and to victims of torture and trafficking.
MSF is also providing technical and practical support to the National Tuberculosis Control Program (PNT) of Libya, managed by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), to diagnose and treat Libyans and non-Libyans with tuberculosis. MSF is also running a tuberculosis control program in Misrata.