Amnesty International has published “horrifying” accounts by migrants of exploitation and abuse in Libya, including Christians who were abducted by Islamic State militants and forced into sexual slavery.
In a report titled “Libya is full of cruelty”, the rights group collected the testimonies of 90 migrants, including 15 women, interviewed in reception centres in Italy and Sicily after escaping Libya in recent months.
Amnesty said sexual abuse is so widespread that some women take contraceptives before the sea crossing.
“From being abducted, incarcerated underground for months, and sexually abused by members of armed groups, to being beaten, exploited or shot at by people-smugglers, traffickers or criminal gangs, refugees and migrants have described in harrowing detail the horrors they were forced to endure in Libya,” said Amnesty’s Magdelena Mughrabi.
Libya is home to some 250,000 refugees and migrants. The UN refugee agency estimates that since April 19 2015, a total of 4,937 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe.
The group urged the international community to take action to tackle the root cause of migration, and increase the number of people resettled overseas or given humanitarian visas.
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