Christian refugees held in Libyan detention centres face rape and beatings

3 July 2018

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Sara, a 23-year-old Ethiopian Christian, described how she and other believers had to hide evidence they were Christians from centre guards at the detention centre in Libya where they were being held: “We hid our crosses, because the Libyan police working in that place didn’t appreciate Christians.”

Violence against detainees, including sexual assaults, is commonplace. “[They] did whatever they wanted to women,” says Sara. “They raped them. I saw it with my own eyes. When you’re hungry, they tell you to walk, and you get raped, and then you get a piece of bread.”

David, a 26-year-old refugee from Christian-majority South Sudan, was held in a detention centre in Tripoli. Guards there treated migrants from majority-Muslim Morocco better than others. When three Moroccan men were allowed ahead of him in a queue, David was told, “You’re black. You’re a slave.”

In November 2017, media reports revealed the existence of modern-day slave markets in Libya, including in the capital Tripoli, where captured African migrants were being sold as slaves. An auctioneer, caught on a concealed camera, could be heard offering a young Nigerian man for sale as part of a group of "big strong boys for farm work”. Among African migrants in Libya are many Christians, including Eritreans escaping religious persecution.

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