Malta: '300 people drinking from the same tap'
14 May 2015

Inside an interrogation centre in Benghazi, Libya, March 2011; many centres used in Gaddafififi's time are still used today.
The full report "Beyond imagination: asylum seekers testify to life in Libya" is available here.
When we asked them for water, they used to tell us to drink from the toilet.

Valletta, 14 May 2015 – Conditions in the places where the asylum seekers interviewed were imprisoned – regardless of who was running them – were uniformly poor. Some places were slightly better than others: the food was more plentiful, of better quality, and sometimes there were beds, when space allowed. However overcrowding, poor ventilation and sanitation, overheating, arbitrary access to fresh air, and a lack of food and of safe and palatable drinking water characterised the asylum seekers' stay in detention in Libya. Their claims are amply backed by the findings of human rights delegations that visited places of detention.


Jamilah: "In Tripoli, they hardly ever gave us food, only a small piece of bread once a day and no water. When we asked them for water, they used to tell us to drink from the toilet. When we were very thirsty, we used to drink tap water. The place was very dirty and there were no mattresses, only mats.

"We were 76 women in one room, as well as a three-year-old girl. We had to share one toilet and shower. It was very crowded. In Ajdabiya, there were 26 women in one small room. We were never allowed to go outside except for one hour a week."

Yohannes: "In Sabha, we were 250 in a big hall, three rooms and a corridor. Even the corridor was packed. We didn't even have place to sleep, someone had to stand up while someone else slept."

Mehari: "Tweisha was horrible, we had no sunlight. To take our meals, they made us run, grab our food and then rush back to our cell, to eat the food inside. It was very overcrowded with poor ventilation."

Tesfay: "In Sabratha, the cells were very crowded. It depended on the guard if we were allowed out or not, some allowed us to move around the corridor. At meal times, we were taken out of the cell to eat. The food wasn't bad but we had only about 40 plates for 300 people so we had to wait for someone to finish using his plate to take it even without washing it.

"A big problem was no drinking water. The officials told us to drink water from the toilets but it was salty. There was a tap outside the toilets that everyone used. It was better, but there were a lot of fights, you can imagine, 300 people drinking from the same tap.

"We had mattresses and beds, but when there were too many people, they took the beds out. There were blankets too but they were full of insects and filthy. So we removed the sheets from the mattresses, washed them and used them to cover ourselves instead."

The full report is available here.