Migrants die of disease in Libya detention; UN criticized

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In the desert of western Libya, hundreds of African migrants were held for months in a hangar filled with maggot-covered garbage and sewage. They shared a couple of buckets of water between them and barely survived on one meal a day. More than 20 died from disease and hunger, they said. The migrants and their advocates accused U.N. aid agencies of turning a blind eye or responding too slowly to their plight. The U.N refugee agency, or UNHCR, denies it’s been unresponsive, saying it has been unable to access parts of the facility, run by one of Libya’s many militias. The commander in charge of the facility denied there was any lack of access. Internal memos and emails leaked to The Associated Press also show disagreement among the UNHCR and other aid agencies over conditions at the site in the town of Zintan, with one NGO working on behalf of UNHCR denying there was lack of food, even as it acknowledged it hadn’t been able to see the majority of migrants held there. The suffering of the migrants held in Zintan underscores the impact of the European Union’s effective yet much-criticized policy of blocking Africans from sailing across the Mediterranean to its shores and keeping them in Libya. Funded and trained by the EU, Libyan border guards have been stepping up efforts to stop migrants from crossing. As a result, thousands of migrants are trapped in a country thrown into chaos by war. At least 6,000 are locked up in…

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