By Busra Nur Bilgic
ANKARA (AA) - Two UN agencies have strongly condemned an airstrike that struck a detention center in Libya early Wednesday, killing more than 40 innocent civilians, all migrants.
At least 80 migrants were also reportedly wounded in the attack in an eastern suburb of the capital Tripoli.
In a joint statement Wednesday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) urged “the broader UN System to condemn this attack and end the use of detention in Libya.”
They further called on the international community to provide urgent corridors for migrants and refugees to be evacuated from Libya.
“This latest violence also speaks to the danger both IOM and UNHCR have warned over returning migrants and refugees to Libya after their interception or rescue on the Mediterranean Sea,” the statement also said.
Since political chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, its northwestern coast has become a major hub for African migrants seeking access to Europe, especially Italy.
Both UN organizations called for an immediate end to the detention of migrants and refugees as well as their protection in Libya.
The center hit today “held at least 600 migrants and refugees -- including women and children. The airstrike that left scores dead, also left dozens injured. For that reason, we expect the final death toll to include many more victims,” it said.
The statement also said such centers must ultimately be closed as the conditions “can only be described as inhumane” and clashes around them intensify every day.
Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) on Wednesday accused forces loyal to East Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar of killing migrants staying at a shelter in the capital.
Fawzi Unayyis, the GNA’s Health Ministry spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that fighter jets linked to Haftar struck the shelter, adding that the death toll could increase.
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when an uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi.
Since then, Libya’s political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power -- one in Tobruk and a UN-recognized one in Tripoli -- and a host of heavily armed militia groups.