Protesters demonstrate outside Italian Embassy over appalling conditions in refugee detention centres

A group of protesters campaigned against the detention of refugees and migrants in Libya in front of the Italian Embassy in London on Wednesday.

With signs saying ‘stop sponsoring slavery’ and ‘respect and save refugees’, demonstrators from the Eritrean, African and European community wanted to raise awareness of the thousands of refugees and migrants that have been intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard.

Organiser of the protest Micael Sham Kyriakakis, 33, said: “People sign petitions and argue about plastic in the sea but they don’t worry about people in the sea.”

He added: “They talk about dead bears and rhinos, but they don’t talk about dead people.”

According to Amnesty International, many refugees are now held in detention centres where ‘abuse is rife and food and water in short supply’.

The organisation also accuses European governments of being complicit in the abuses suffered by those detained in Libya by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings to Europe and sending people back to Libya.

Protester and immigration solicitor Giulia Tranchina, 36, said: “I receive desperate calls from the detention centres in Libya and represent clients in the UK who tell me about some horrific acts that go on there.”

“With today’s protests, as well as the last two outside the UNHCR and the EU parliament offices in London, we are hoping to raise awareness about the horrific crimes the EU is allowing to continue, instead of providing safety to refugees who would represent a huge richness for our countries,” she added.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported that the Italian Coast Guard began handing over the coordination of rescue operations in international waters near Libya to the Libyan Coast Guard.

The detention centres in Libya are known for holding migrants and refugees from Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia in indefinite detention and subjecting them to serious human rights violations.

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