(Beirut) – All countries should suspend any forcible returns of Libyans and third country nationals to Libya as they may face serious harm if forced to return there.

The armed conflicts and lawlessness in Libya are giving rise to indiscriminate violence and widespread human rights abuses. As a result, anyone forcibly returned to any part of Libya would be exposed to a real risk of serious harm, which would constitute what is known as refoulement under international law.

International organizations and most foreign diplomatic missions have suspended their activities in Libya and withdrew from the country at the onset of the armed conflicts in Tripoli, in July 2014. There is a lack of access to information inside of Libya that would allow for a meaningful individualized risk assessment.

“All countries should allow civilians fleeing Libya, including third country nationals who have been living there, access to their territories,” said Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch. “Other countries should suspend forcible returns of civilians to any location in Libya until the security and human rights situation has improved sufficiently to allow for a safe and dignified return.”