Amnesty International has highlighted the ‘extreme dangers’ facing Christian migrants and refugees in Libya, in the light of the rising threat of violence from armed Islamist groups.
Concerned specifically about attacks from Islamic State (IS), the 31-page report from Amnesty, called Libya is full of cruelty, said, ‘Abducted, tortured, unlawfully killed and harassed because of their religion, Christians are left with violence on every side and a dying hope of escape.
‘The rise of armed groups which have pledged allegiance to the IS armed group has further exacerbated risks faced by religious minorities in Libya. Even before the recent summary killings of 51 Copts claimed by the IS armed group in three separate incidents in February and March 2015, Christian migrants and refugees from Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt faced widespread abuse, including unlawful killings and harassment on account of their religion’.
Evidence gathered by Amnesty suggested that Christians in Libya are often subjected to abductions, torture, theft and physical assaults by criminal gangs and people smugglers, in addition to abuses perpetrated by armed groups such as IS and Ansar al-Shari’a.
The report comes after numerous recent reports of migrant deaths during sea crossings between Libya and European shores. One respondent called Charles, a Christian man from Nigeria who fled to Libya’s coastal city of Zuwara to escape fighting in Tripoli, said of Islamist groups, ‘They would come steal our money and flog us. I am a Christian and that’s why the men would always come to our house and attack us. In October 2014, four men kidnapped me because they saw I was carrying a Bible’. He said he was tortured for two days, until he was able to escape through a window. Amnesty is appealing to the international community to offer more resettlement places for refugees.