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UNHCR concerned as sub-Saharan Africans targeted in Libya

© BBC

BBC footage of a group of Africans from sub-Saharan countries being rounded up in Tripoli.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has issued a strong call for sub-Saharan Africans in Libya to be protected as reports emerge from Tripoli of people being persecuted because of their colour. Black non-Libyans are reportedly being targeted in the newly liberated neighbourhoods of Tripoli as local residents, many of them armed, are roaming the streets looking for suspected Gaddafi mercenaries. Black African migrant workers and refugees are now too scared to leave their homes and are running out of vital supplies.

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, as well as people with international protection needs, have fled Libya to neighbouring countries over the course of the Libya crisis. Many have risked their lives to escape from Libya by sea in a bid to reach Europe. However, many tens of thousands are believed to have remained in Tripoli. They are trapped in the capital as, once again, people with black skin are being accused of siding with the dictator. The High Commissioner is urging the armed forces as well as Libyan civilians to show restraint. 

“It is crucial that humanitarian law prevails through these climactic moments and that foreigners – including refugees and migrant workers – are being fully and properly protected from harm," he stressed.

UNHCR has a presence in the besieged Libyan capital, Tripoli, and in the east of the country. UNHCR teams have also been operating on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders.