Nearly 2,000 people living in Tripoli in an internally displaced persons (IDP) settlement have been forcibly evicted by armed militias, the United Nations Refugee Agency said Tuesday.
Triq Al Matar was the largest IDP settlement in Tripoli, hosting families originally from the city of Tawergha who have lived there since it was established for IDPs after the battle of Misrata in 2011.
“According to residents, a local militia forced the entire population of Triq Al Matar to flee their homes last week, following three nights of indiscriminate raiding and the arbitrary arrest of 94 residents, 12 of whom remain detained by the militia in dismal conditions,” said William Spindler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at a Geneva press conference.
“Some women and girls were threatened with rape and the IDPs had to flee their homes at short notice, taking only a few belongings with them.”
After last week’s incident, some Triq Al Matar residents are now living in cars, while others have taken shelter with friends or family. Yet UNHCR is now concerned for the safety of other IDPs living at several Tripoli settlements, but prevented from returning home as Libya’s security and stability challenges drag on.
About 40,000 people of Tawergha, an ethnic minority, had to leave their homes and have lived in the settlements around Tripoli and Benghazi for seven years.
“UNHCR is concerned that IDPs moving to other settlements in Tripoli are at risk of further eviction,” Spindler said, urging all parties to protect their human rights. “Some families from Tawergha living in other settlements in Tripoli have already fled their homes for fear of being attacked.”
An estimated 192,000 IDPs are living in Libya, UNHCR said.