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As Tripoli Conflict Continues, Detained Migrants Run Out Of Food

At least 376 people have been killed and thousands displaced since fighting erupted last month in the Libyan capital. About 3,000 migrants and refugees are being held in detention centres.

At least 376 people have been killed and thousands displaced since fighting erupted last month in the Libyan capital. About 3,000 migrants and refugees are being held in detention centres.

As Tripoli conflict continues, detained migrants run out of food today

In Abu Salim Detention Centre, in southern Tripoli in Libya, refugees and migrants say the price of food has more than doubled since clashes started on April 4.

Once a day, one group of friends prepares a small meal from a dwindling supply of flour, while worrying how long it can last. Others have nothing.

More than 400 people are trapped there, close to the front lines, as fighting rages around them. Among them are about 30 children, according to current and former detainees.

“We are hungry but at this time we don't care about food, only how we can survive [with] our life,” an Eritrean teenager told Al Jazeera through WhatsApp messages sent from a hidden phone he will sell once the flour runs out.

They are among roughly 3,000 migrants and refugees currently held in detention centres run by the Libyan Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), which is currently caught in the middle of clashes.

 UN evacuates 325 refugees out of Tripoli as clashes continue. Libyan authorities are in charge of providing food for detainees, but since last October refugees and migrants in Abu Salim detention centre have been buying their own.

They raise cash by going out of the centre to work, or use money sent by their families in Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and other countries - many of whom have entered into debt to support them.

“At this time, because of the war, the way of receiving money from family [is] completely closed. Also, there's no transportation. Due to the war, it's impossible to bring any food from outside,” said the teenager, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, like others interviewed for this story.

“We don't have any food from any NGO. Like me, people don't have money... It is very hard."

In terms of quantity and quality, Craig Kenzie, the project coordinator for Tripoli with Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, said food has been a “chronic issue” in detention centres the aid agency works in, both before and since the conflict, which has led to “significant disruption” in food provisions.

“We reiterate the obligation that the [UN-backed Tripoli] government has in providing sufficient amounts of quantity and quality of food for people that they have chosen to arbitrarily detain in these detention centres.”

The United Nations refugee agency moved hundreds of refugees from Abu Salim Detention Centre earlier this month, but those left on the front lines are increasingly hopeless.

In other Tripoli detention centres, detainees using hidden phones told Al Jazeera they have gone for days without food and are drinking dirty water, causing some to get diarrhoea. (Aljazeera)

CURLED FROM NEWS EXPRESS