EU leaders in Sibiu should urgently press for release and evacuation to safety for refugees and migrants in Libya

Dear President Tusk,

We are writing to you to draw your attention to the dangers that the recent escalation of the armed conflict in Tripoli poses for refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in Libya and to urge you to take swift action to ensure that they are given access to safety.

Heads of EU states and governments gathering in Sibiu on 9 May will be aware that, according to UN figures, the escalation of violence in and around Tripoli has caused the displacement of some 50,000 people since 4 April. It has also endangered the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants arbitrarily held in detention centres, particularly those detained in and around Tripoli. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have raised concerns that, since the start of the violence, migrants and refugees may have been forced to participate in military-related activities (such as cleaning and stockpiling weapons), forcibly held in proximity to stored weapons and munitions, have experienced severe shortages of food and drinking water and were the targets of at least one horrific attack that should be investigated as a possible war crime. On 23 April armed men entered the Qasr Ben Ghashir detention centre, south of Tripoli, and shot at migrants and refugees being held there, according to witnesses after they refused to stop their prayer celebrating Easter. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at least 12 people were hospitalized as a result of their injuries.