Outrage after bombing kills 44 in Libya’s migrant camp

UN chief and agencies expressed outrage over the deadly airstrike on a refugee and migrant detention centre, above, (Photo credit: UNHCR) in Libya late on Tuesday and sought an independent investigation into the “war crime”, multiple agencies report.

However, the UN Security Council failed to condemn the incident as the US refused to endorse a proposed statement.

At least 44 male refugees and migrants from Africa were killed and 140 others injured in the bombing blamed on the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) which runs a parallel government in the east under Khalifa Haftar.

The bombing comes more than two months after LNA attacked Tripoli’s Qasr Bin Gashir refugee and migrant detention centre, leaving several injured.

Migrants, especially from Africa, are illegally trying to reach Europe by sea through Libya. Many are intercepted by Libyan coast guard and sent to shelters in Tripoli.

LNA rejected the latest charge and said the forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez Serraj bombed the Daman Camp in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura to put the blame on Haftar.

The camp houses more than 600 people and the bombing hit the part where African refugees and migrants were detained.

Ghassan Salame, head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), called the attack a “war crime” since it targeted innocent people.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the warring parties bombed the migrants’ shelter despite knowing its exact coordinates. The attack could, hence, be viewed as a war crime, he added.  

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration called for an independent investigation into the bombing, immediate end to detention of migrants and refugees and guarantee of their protection in Libya.

But the UN Security Council remained divided on Libya and failed to condemn Tuesday’s attack.

At a two-hour closed-door meeting of the council on Wednesday, Britain circulated a statement condemning the attack on migrants’ shelter and calling for ceasefire and resumption of talks. But the meeting ended without Washington’s approval.

The fighting between government forces and Haftar’ militia has left 739 people dead and 4,407 injured since April.

Haftar calls his offensive on Tripoli a campaign against terrorism.

Libya descended into chaos during the civil war in 2011 that led to the ouster and death of its long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi in mob lynching.

The ongoing civil war in Libya is causing concern as Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked terrorists are trying to regain strength and spread their wings across this North African nation.