In the humanitarian horror that Libya has become, the migrant detention centre at Abu Salim is by no means the worst.
Migrant centres in this country, packed with thousands of people seized on the trafficking routes that criss-cross Libya, have become renowned for forced labour, beatings, torture and rape.
But in southern Tripoli, Abu Salim offers something close to respite for those who have been on the road for weeks if not months. Run by the interior ministry, it’s one of the few detention sites in Libya that journalists can safely visit. There’s a health clinic, a kitchen, dormitories and mattresses, spaces for prayer.
But there is little hope. The 150 or so migrants who are stuck here have made perilous journeys from Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, but Abu Salim is the end of the road. It is likely to be the closest they will get to Europe. The next, final stage of their journey will be a return trip home.
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