We come from South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. We are fleeing from civil wars, persecutions, climate changes and poverty back in our countries of origin. We were all pushed by circumstances beyond human endurance.
We wanted to reach Europe seeking a second chance for our lives and therefore arrived in Libya. Here we became the hidden workforce of the Libyan economy: we lay bricks and build Libyan houses, we repair and wash Libyan cars, we cultivate and plant fruit and vegetables for Libyan farmers and Libyan dining tables, we mount satellites on high roofs for the Libyan screens etc.
Apparently this is not enough for Libyan authorities. Our workforce is not enough. They want the full control of our bodies and dignity. What we found on our arrival was a nightmare made of tortures, rapes, extortions, arbitrary detentions… we suffered every possible and unimaginable human right violation.
Not only once.
We have been forcibly intercepted at sea by the so-called Libyan coast guard - funded by the Italian and European authorities - and then brought back to prisons and inhumane concentration camps. Some of us had to repeat this cycle of humiliation two, three, five, up to ten times.
We tried to raise our voice and spread our stories. We taught these to institutions, politicians, journalists but apart from very few interested ones, our stories remained unheard. We were deliberately silenced.
But not anymore.
Since the 1st of October 2021, the day that Libyan police and military forces came to our homes in Gargaresh neighborhood and took ruthless, grave and merciless crackdowns and mass raids against us. Thousands were arbitrarily arrested and detained in inhumane concentration camps.
The day after, we came as individuals and gathered at the UNHCR headquarters. Here we understood we had no other choice than start organizing ourselves.
We raised our voices and the voices of the voiceless refugees who have been constantly silenced. We cannot keep on going silent while no one is advocating for us and our rights.
Here we are now to claim our rights and seek protection to countries of safety.
Therefore we demand now with our voices:
Evacuations to lands of safety where our rights will be protected and respected.
Justice and equality among refugees and asylum seekers who are registered with the UNHCR in Libya.
The abolishment of funding the Libyan coast guards who have constantly and forcibly intercepted refugees fleeing the Libyan hell and brought them to Libya where all atrocities befalls them.
The closure of all detention centers across Libya, which are fully funded by the Italian and European union authorities.
The authorities should bring the perpetrators to justice who have shot and killed our brothers and sisters both in and out of the detention centers.
The Libyan authorities to stop arbitrarily detaining persons of concern to the office of UNHCR.
To call on Libya to sign and ratify the constitution of the 1951 Genève Refugee convention.