Libya: Tawergha IDP camp attacked by militia in danger of further attack and demolition

 

This morning a militia group belonging to the Ghnewa brigade attacked the Tariq Al-Mattar IDP camp in Tripoli, home to over 500 families who were displaced from the town of Tawergha in 2011. The attack appears to be in retaliation to a violent altercation which took place between young men in the camp some two weeks ago, resulting in the death of one armed militia member from the Ghnewa brigade. Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

“We have received first-hand accounts from people in the Al-Mattar camp describing the attacks they have experienced at the hands of the militia over the past few days. While families were sleeping during the night, armed militia broke down the doors to their makeshift homes, stealing money and household items and kidnapping 77 men and a 13-year-old boy. The armed group gave people in the camp until late this afternoon to vacate the camp as bulldozers sit poised to demolish everything. Now, former residents tell Amnesty International, the camp is empty. Families have taken from their belongings what they can and have nowhere to go.

“This abhorrent attack demonstrates the level of intimidation and collective punishment imposed by militias on displaced people in the Al-Mattar camp. The environment of impunity which the Libyan government has fostered is emboldening militias to get away with these appalling abuses.

“The Libyan authorities need to take serious measures to reinstate the judiciary and disarm and demobilize militias, and serious steps towards holding the perpetrators to account. They must immediately intervene to prevent armed groups from forcibly evicting people from the camp, protect the camp residents from further violence, and ensure the safe release of the those who were kidnapped in this morning’s raid. Further, it is essential that the Government of National Accord takes the lead in enabling and securing the safe return of the Tawarghas to their hometown of Tawergha. This includes monitoring the return and settlement process, rehabilitation of homes, schools, and infrastructure of the town.”  

Background

The Tariq al-Mattar IDP camp is home to over 500 families displaced from their home town in Tawergha since 2011, when the town was used as a launching ground for a pro-Gaddafi offensive against the city of Misratah.  As a result, the entire population of 40,000 Tawerghans were forced to flee the town and have not been able to return. Tawerghans have been displaced, living in makeshift housing and sporadic camps throughout the country ever since.