It’s been nearly three weeks since Abdulaziz, a 28-year-old Somali, doused himself in petrol before burning himself to death in Triq al Sikka migrant detention centre in Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Other detainees, who witnessed what happened, said he killed himself shortly after a visit from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), claiming officials had told him he had no chance of being evacuated from Libya.
Abdulaziz had been in the detention centre for nine months, and felt completely hopeless, they said.
“First, he started in secret, then he was shouting, people were running, then, it was already over,” said one detainee about the suicide, adding that others tried to save him, but it was too late.
The UNHCR says the Somali’s death had nothing to do with their visit, and Abdulaziz was scheduled for evacuation to Niger next month, though it is not clear why he had not been told about it.
In the following days, refugees collected small amounts of money, sent from their families, to buy coffee, biscuits, and candles, and celebrate his life.However, their thoughts quickly turned to who might die next.Thousands of refugees and migrants are currently being held in indefinite detention by Libya’s Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM). Many were deported back to Libya after the boats they were on, en route to Italy, were intercepted by the EU-funded Libyan coastguard.
Among them are people from Somalia, Eritrea, or Sudan; countries at war or dictatorships where gross human rights abuses are taking place.They say they cannot go home, and should be evacuated to a safe country. Of the centres in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, Triq al Sikka, which holds more than 400 people, is regularly described by refugees and migrants as one of the worst, because of the levels of neglect and abuse.It’s just like hell,” one former detainee said. “An abomination.”