Libya

  1. Captain jailed for returning rescued migrants to Libya

    Alan Johnston

    BBC Middle East analyst

    Migrants waiting to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea.
    Image caption: International law forbids sending anyone to a place where their human rights are at risk (archive photo)

    An Italian court has given a ship's captain a one-year jail sentence because he returned migrants to Libya after rescuing them in the Mediterranean.

    The skipper of the Italian-flagged Asso 28 was convicted of violating international law, which forbids sending anyone to a place where their human rights are at risk.

    The verdict is at odds with the policy of Italy's government and the European Union.

    They fund the work of Libya's coastguards as they round-up migrants and stem their flow towards Europe.

    This EU assistance has been bitterly criticised by human rights groups, who've repeatedly reported on the appalling treatment often endured by migrants in Libya.

  2. Migrants in Libya face dire conditions - aid workers

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Aid workers in Libya say migrants are enduring dire conditions in detention following a wave of arrests by government security forces.

    The Doctors Without Borders agency said its staff had seen cells so over-crowded that men were being forced to stand. Some said they hadn't eaten for days.

    At another site the aid workers witnessed an escape attempt that was met with extreme violence.

    At least 5,000 migrants have been detained in the capital, Tripoli in recent days.

    There have been reports of beatings, sexual violence and one death.

    The authorities say the operation has targeted illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

    A RHIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) from the NGO Open Arms approaches a wooden boat with 38 migrants of various nationalities, the majority of whom were Libyans, on board in the Search and Rescue Zone of Malta on March 27, 2021 at sea in the Malta SAR Zone
    Image caption: Libya is the main crossing point for migrants trying to reach Europe
  3. War crimes committed across Libya - UN report

    Imogen Foulkes

    BBC News, Geneva

    Fighters loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) gesture in celebration in the coastal city of Sabratha on April 13, 2020
    Image caption: Fighters representing different groups have clashed throughout the country

    A report from the UN’s first-ever fact finding mission to Libya has concluded that violations which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed across the country.

    The report accuses all parties to the conflict there of major violations - including other countries, foreign fighters and mercenaries.

    Libya has been in conflict since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and a UN-backed peace process has run into obstacles amid disagreement over voting rules.

    The UN report depicts a country which has suffered a decade of violent chaos.

    Dozens of different armed groups battling for control of Libya have attacked schools, hospitals and homes with no regard to the lives of civilians.

    Migrants and refugees from sub-Saharan Africa are subjected to violent abuse that could amount to crimes against humanity.

    The report also describes horrific conditions in secret prisons, in which detainees are tortured on a daily basis.

    The UN investigators reviewed hundreds of documents and interviewed over 150 people in Libya, Tunisia and Italy.

    They have compiled a confidential list of those responsible for the most serious violations.

    Although the report concludes that, with the agreement of a ceasefire and the installation of a government of national unity, Libya has become more stable in recent months, the human rights situation remains concerning.

    The UN investigators want their mandate renewed for another year.

    You may also be interested in:

  4. Hundreds of Europe-bound migrants intercepted off Libya

    Emmanuel Igunza

    BBC News

    Migrants on board off Libya's coast
    Image caption: Libya is one of the main departure points for migrants, like those pictured, heading to Europe

    More than 500 migrants attempting to get to Europe were on Sunday intercepted off the Libyan coast as the country continues a massive crackdown on migrants.

    The migrants were intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard while on boats believed to heading to Europe.

    Five hundred were crammed in one boat, while a second rubber boat with 50 people was intercepted after its engine failed at sea.

    The UN refugee agency says majority of the people are from Bangladesh, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

    It comes just days after one person was killed and dozens injured during a police operation in an area in west Libya popular with asylum seekers and migrants.

    Thousands of people have been arrested since the operation began.

    The UN has condemned what it called excessive use of force against the asylum seekers.

    At least 4,000 migrants have so far been arrested in the sweeping operation mainly in the Gargaresh area of Tripoli.

    The North African country, in chaos since its 2011 revolution, is one of the main departure points for migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, hoping to reach Europe.

  5. France slashes visa numbers for North Africans

    BBC World Service

    France is slashing the number of visas issued to people from Algeria, Libya, and Morocco.

    A government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, told Europe 1 radio that it was a drastic and unprecedented decision, made necessary by the refusal of the North African countries to take back nationals that France doesn’t want and can't keep.

    He said “there was dialogue, then there were threats, and today we're carrying out those threats".

    Immigration is likely to be a key issue in next year’s presidential election.

    President Emmanuel Macron is widely expected to face off again against the anti-immigration far-right leader, Marine Le Pen.

  6. Gen Haftar to drop military role ahead of Libya poll

    BBC World Service

    Libyan commander, Khalifa Haftar

    The Libyan commander, Khalifa Haftar, has taken a step that may enable him to run in a presidential election, due to take place in December.

    General Haftar says he's stepping down from his military duties. He appears to be taking advantage of a controversial new law.

    It says officials must relinquish their posts in order to stand in the elections, but it guarantees that they can return to their old positions if they lose.

    The law - which was ratified by an ally of General Haftar - has been rejected by his opponents.

    Analysts say gathering tensions between rival camps have put the holding of Libya's elections in doubt.

    Read: The Libyan general with big ambitions

  7. Chad rebels clash with Gen Haftar's forces in Libya

    BBC World Service

    Members of Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, 13 April, 2019
    Image caption: A range of armed groups operate across borders in the Sahel region

    Libyan forces loyal to the eastern-based commander, General Khalifa Haftar, have been clashing in the south of the country with rebels from neighbouring Chad.

    Gen Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army said it had carried out air strikes.

    The rebels, from a group called the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, said their positions on the border between the two countries had been attacked.

    It claimed French forces allied with Gen Haftar had been involved. France denies this.

    Analysts say the fighting is another example of the instability of the Sahel region, where a range of armed groups operate across borders.

  8. Libya arrests senior Islamic State figure

    Alan Johnston

    Middle East editor, BBC World Service

    A map of Libya showing Bani Walid, south-east of the capital, Tripoli.

    The Libyan government says its forces have arrested a senior Islamic State group figure.

    Embarak al-Khazimi was captured at Bani Walid, south-east of the capital, Tripoli.

    Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said the arrest was a great success that would make it possible to gather information on IS.

    Three years ago, the group was driven out of the last bit of territory it held in Libya.

    Its members are now in hiding, or holed up in the desert, but they remain a threat to the country and the region.

  9. Gaddafi's son released from Libya prison

    BBC World Service

    Saadi Gaddafi, late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son
    Image caption: Sa'adi Gaddafi was commander of Libya's Special Forces

    The third son of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has been released from jail in the capital Tripoli, where he had been held since 2014.

    Sa'adi Gaddafi was commander of Libya's Special Forces but was also famous for attempting a career as a professional footballer in Italy.

    He fled to Niger when his father was overthrown and killed in 2011 but was extradited back to Libya where he was found not guilty of a series of crimes including murder.

    Shortly after his release, Mr Gaddafi boarded a private jet and flew to Istanbul.

    Libya's Government of National Unity said in a statement that it hoped his release would help national reconciliation.

  10. Libya infighting undermines election prospects

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Fighting has broken out in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, between fighters backing the National Unity Government and others supporting the presidential council.

    It is a sign that there are still divisions as the country inches towards elections scheduled for December.

    The presidential council is in place until a new president is voted in and is supposed to be in command of the armed forces.

    December's vote is aimed at ending more than a decade of violence and chaos in the country, which has seen rival governments and a plethora of militia groups battling each other.

    Friday's exchange of fire is believed to have started when fighters backing the presidential council attempted to take control of a military camp south of Tripoli.

  11. Libyan water cut as gunmen demand prisoner's release

    BBC World Service

    Abdullah al-Senussi pictured during his trial
    Image caption: Ex-spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi was one of Col Gaddafi's closest confidants and also his brother-in-law

    Large parts of west and south-western Libya are without water after armed men demanding the release of a former henchman of Muammar Gaddafi threatened to sabotage the water supply.

    The authority that runs the Great Man-Made River - which supplies fresh water across the country - said it had suspended its flow to the region as a precaution after gunmen entered its operational centre.

    They said they would blow up the main water supply if Abdullah al-Senussi - who was the late Libyan leader's intelligence chief and brother-in-law - was not freed.

    He is in jail in Tripoli and was sentenced to death in 2015, four years after the uprising in which Gaddafi was killed.

    The Great Man-Made River has been described as the biggest irrigation project in the world.

    Great Man-Made River monument in Tripoli, Libya - late 20th Century
    Image caption: Gaddafi built a monument for the Great Man-Made River project, which he once dubbed "the Eighth Wonder of the World"

    It is a vast network of underground pipelines which brings fresh water from aquifers deep in the Sahara Desert to Libya’s coast.

    You may also be interested in:

  12. The lost tablet and the secret documents

    Tablet

    Clues pointing to a shadowy Russian army.

    Read more

  13. Crucial pre-election negotiations resume in Libya

    BBC World Service

    Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah (C) speaks during a press conference
    Image caption: Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah (C) took office in February

    The UN has launched a fresh round of talks at which delegates from across Libya will try to agree arrangements for crucially important elections.

    The aim is to settle on a constitutional framework that would govern parliamentary and presidential polls scheduled for December.

    The delegates failed to reach a deal at similar talks six weeks ago.

    After years of war, an interim government has been installed that's meant to lead Libya into the elections.

    But the failure to reach agreement so far on issues in the run-up to the polls is raising doubts as to whether they'll go ahead as planned.

  14. Russian mercenaries support Libya anti-government troops

    BBC World Service

    A Libyan villager shows images of a relative who was killed. The villager says he survived himself by playing dead
    Image caption: A Libyan villager shows images of a relative who was killed. The villager says he survived himself by playing dead

    A BBC investigation has found evidence Russian mercenaries have been operating in support of anti-government forces in Libya, in defiance of a UN ceasefire agreement.

    Data from a tablet computer left by a Russian fighter indicates members of the Wagner mercenary organisation murdered civilians and subjected others to forced labour; actions which may amount to war crimes.

    The findings were supported by interviews with Libyans caught up in the conflict.

    Speaking to the BBC on condition of anonymity, one former Wagner employee said there were no clear rules and no documents regulating relations with the local population.

    The service records of Wagner mercenaries also highlight the group's involvement in other conflicts including Syria and Ukraine.

    Read the full story: Scale of Russian mercenary mission in Libya exposed

  15. Video content

    Video caption: Wagner: Scale of Russian mercenary mission in Libya exposed

    A BBC investigation has revealed the scale of operations by the mercenary group in Libya's civil war.