TRIPOLI, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Higher Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday called for release of 5,000 refugees detained in Libya.
"Refugees are persons that have been forced to leave their homes because of war or persecution. They should not be imprisoned for seeking safety and international protection," the commission tweeted.
"UNHCR reiterates its call to end detention of refugees in Libya where over 5,000 persons are still detained," the commission added.
On Monday, UNHCR called for closure of detention centers of illegal immigrants in Libya.
Due to the state of insecurity and chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled the late leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya became a preferred point of departure for thousands of illegal immigrants wanting to cross the Mediterranean toward European shores.
Migrant shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of migrants who have been rescued at sea or arrested by Libyan security services.