Malta-Libya: no right to health
28 May 2015

A Somali woman feeds her child in an ambulance in Malta shortly after being rescued at sea in July 2013. In Libya, where migrants intercepted at sea are detained and often punished, and where healthcare is a luxury denied to detainees, the situation would probably have been very different.
When we said there were sick people who needed help, they started beating us all. A Somali died first and the other two died shortly afterwards. They left the bodies there a whole day before removing them.

Valletta, 28 May 2015 – The poor conditions in places of detention in Libya often lead to illness among the detainees, especially respiratory tract and skin infections. However the asylum seekers interviewed said healthcare was a luxury few, if any, were allowed. Sometimes lotion was given for scabies. However, in most cases, those who were ill, even seriously ill, were not treated. They said merely asking for medical care often met with taunts or punishment and some migrants were simply abandoned to die of their illness. Once again, their words are consistent with the findings of human rights organisations.

Testimonies

60-year-old Dahabo is seriously ill: "Once I asked soldiers for medical help and they said 'hmar [donkey], sit down' and mocked me. I never received any medical help."

Farah: "We were kept in a windowless room – there were 40 people crammed in there. I was sick for nearly three months with a bad respiratory tract infection. I was very unwell, I had fever, I was vomiting and could not stand up without feeling dizzy. People from UNHCR used to come and find me on the floor, in the same place; they told me they would love to help but nothing happened. Then the other prisoners protested for me, they refused to eat for two days, and so I was taken to hospital and diagnosed but never given treatment. They took me back and that was that."

Yohannes: "When I was in Ajdabiya, there were three sick men, two Somalis and one Eritrean. We knocked on the doors of the cell to let the guards know. After a long time, they came and asked us what we want. When we said there were sick people who needed help, they started beating us all. A Somali died first and the other two died shortly afterwards. They left the bodies there a whole day before removing them."

Amina: "I was sick for seven days and when I said I need a doctor, they said, 'it's up to you, it doesn't concern us.'"