2019 Tajoura migrant center airstrike

2019 Tajoura migrant center airstrike
Part of Libyan Civil War (2014–present), European migrant crisis
2019 Tajoura migrant center airstrike is located in Libya
2019 Tajoura migrant center airstrike
2019 Tajoura migrant center airstrike (Libya)
LocationTajoura, Libya
Coordinates32°50′05″N 13°23′05″E / 32°50′05″N 13°23′05″E / 32.83472; 13.38472

On 2 July 2019 at 23:30[1][2] an airstrike by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) hit the Tajoura Detention Center outside Tripoli, Libya, while hundreds of people were inside the facility.[6] The detention center was being used as a holding facility for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe when a storage hangar that it used as a residential facility was destroyed in an aerial bombing. The United Nations Human Rights Council stated that "It was known that there were 600 people living inside" the facility.[4][7]

At least 53 people were killed and 130 were wounded.[3] The LNA's apparent recklessness and its alleged targeting of unarmed civilians were condemned by outraged responses which came from all over the world. The airstrike also raised scrutiny of the European Union's policy of cooperating with militias to detain migrants, and funding and training the Libyan Coast Guard which apprehended most of the migrants and refugees.[4][6]

Background

The Tajoura Detention Center is located 16 kilometres (10 mi) east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. It is part of a network of 34 migrant detention centers across northwestern Libya which house at least 5,000 people. The centers are operated by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and are used to detain migrants attempting to reach Europe.[8]

In April 2019, the Libyan National Army, under Haftar's command, began a major offensive to capture western Libya and the capital Tripoli. After an airstrike hit a target less than 100 metres (330 ft) from the detention center in May, the UN Refugee Agency called for the evacuation of refugees and migrants in detention centers in conflict areas of Tripoli.[8][9] On 1 July 2019, the LNA said it had begun an air campaign.[4] The LNA's spokesman said that the air campaign destroyed the main control room for drones at Mitiga International Airport, which led to the airport—Tripoli's only functioning airport—suspending civilian flights.[4]