The Safety and Wellbeing of Children at High Risk in Detention Centers in Libya

October 12, 2021


NEW YORK / TRIPOLI (October 12, 2021) - The safety and wellbeing of at least 1,000 women and children – including five unaccompanied children and at least 30 infants – held in detention centers in Tripoli, Libya, is at immediate risk, UNICEF warned today.

Around 751 women and 255 children were among the thousands of migrants and asylum seekers caught up in recent mass arrests.

“Migrant and refugee children in Libya continue to face grave child rights violations including arbitrary detention,” said Ms. Cristina Brugiolo, acting UNICEF Special Representative to Libya. “Children are held under devastating and inhumane conditions in these detention centers. We can assume the actual number of children held may be much higher as many boys are reportedly placed in cells with adult males.”

Detention centers have been receiving far larger numbers than their capacity. Libya's largest detention center, “Al Mabani”, is holding more than 5,000 people - four times its official capacity - including 100 children and 300 women. The 1,772 remaining detainees including 43 children and 106 women were transferred to the “Ain Zara” detention center. 

UNICEF and other humanitarian actors urge Libyan authorities to protect children and prevent their separation from their parents, caregivers, and families.

UNICEF calls for the immediate release of all children in detention centers across Libya. 

“UNICEF stands ready with partners to provide technical support including alternative care arrangements for the detained children,” said Ms. Brugiolo.


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world’s most vulnerable children. Together, we are working toward a world that upholds the rights of all children and helps every child thrive. For more information, visit


For more information please contact:
Erica Vogel, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2480,
Lauren Davitt, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2503,