01/30/2015

Tawergha refugees hope to return to their hometown soon – EU must promote reconciliation

Hope for excluded black Africans in Libya – negotiations in Geneva pose possible solution to Tawergha-crisis

© Steve Rideout/Flickr

According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the fact that the peace negotiations in Geneva have lead to an agreement concerning the Tawergha-crisis in Libya is a sign of hope for the global fight against racism. Yesterday, during the talks which are mediated by the United Nations, the City Council of Misrata had generally agreed to a return of about 40,000 displaced Black Africans from Libya to their hometown Tawergha. "After three and a half years of expulsion, flight, arbitrary detentions, torture and humiliation solely because of their skin color, the Tawergha refugees are longing to be able to return home," said the STP's Africa-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Friday.

The STP also urged the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Government to encourage reconciliation between the inhabitants of the neighboring cities of Misrata and Tawergha and to provide assistance for the displaced persons. "The refugees are in urgent need of help to rebuild the largely destroyed city of Tawergha. Also, there must be active support for reconciliation between the conflicting parties on both cities, or the citizens of Tawergha will not be able to return, in spite of the outcome of the negotiations," said Delius.

The STP welcomes the fact that the meeting in Geneva also led to an important agreement on controversial human rights issues. Thus, a working group to be established by members of the City Council of Tawergha and other supporters will be given the opportunity to visit former residents of Tawergha who are detained in Misrata – in official and in secret prisons – to gather information concerning the accusations against them. Arbitrary detentions and torture of countless residents of Tawergha in secret detention centers in Misrata have been a point of contention between the residents of both cities for quite a while.

The Tawergha crisis started in the summer of 2011, when militias from neighboring Misrata accused all Black African residents of Tawergha of supporting dictator Muammar Gaddafi – and thus expelled them from the city. Previously, Misrata had been under fire from Gaddafi's troops who had gathered in Tawergha. In vain, the residents of Tawergha had tried to point out that they had been unable to resist the occupation of the city, but that they had not supported the dictator.

Even after their expulsion from the city in August 2011, there were several violent attacks on the camps of the Tawergha refugees. Over the years, the STP had documented many of these attacks and had called for a political solution to the refugee crisis which the international community had ignored for so long.

Ein binnenvertriebenes Kind aus der Stadt Tawergha steht inmitten von Müllsäcken in einem Flüchtlingslager in Benghazi.


Ulrich Delius, der Afrikareferent der Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, ist erreichbar unter Tel. 0551 49906 27 oder afrika@gfbv.de.

 


Header Foto: Steve Rideout/Flickr