Arab League, African Union condemn airstrike on Libyan detention center

A number of regional and international organizations have strongly condemned the airstrike that targeted a migrant detention center near Tripoli early Wednesday, killing at least 44 people and wounding more than 130.

The Arab League condemned the attack, for which it wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible.

The center was housing around 150 migrants, mostly Sudanese and Moroccans, according to two migrants who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

In a statement, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit stressed the importance of protecting civilians from the ongoing military actions surrounding Tripoli, and preserving the safety of civil institutions.

He demanded “an immediate halt for the military escalation,” urging the conflicting parties to return to the political path that leads to a comprehensive settlement for the Libyan crisis.

The Libyan Presidency Council described the attack as a war crime, which can be added to the list of violations committed against humanity in Libya, emphasizing that the strike was ”intentional,” calling at the same time the U.N. mission in Libya to send a fact-finding committee to inspect the site and document the incident.

United Nations envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame also condemned the strike, saying it “clearly amounts to the level of a war crime.”

“The absurdity of this ongoing war has today reached its most heinous form and tragic outcome with this bloody, unjust slaughter,” Salame said in a Wednesday statement.

At least 6,000 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other nations are locked in dozens of detention facilities in Libya run by militias accused of torture and other abuses. 

Most of the migrants were apprehended by European Union-funded and -trained Libyan coast guards while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

The U.N. refugee agency has said more than 3,000 migrants are in danger because they are held in detention centers close to the front lines.

Moreover, the French Foreign Ministry called for a quick return to the U.N.-backed talks and guarantee access for humanitarian groups, which have often struggled to bring aid to the migrants trapped in detention centers.

Both the European Union and the African Union described the raid on the migrant center as “a war atrocity,” and called for opening an independent, international investigation into the incident to reveal the truth of what happened.

Libya has been struggling to make a democratic transition amid insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of former leader Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011.

The oil-rich country has since then seen the emergence of two rival seats of power, one in eastern Libya, supported by the Libyan National Army, and the Tripoli-based government recognized by U.N.

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