The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement that the European Union's policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean is inhuman.
"What was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic", Mr Hussein said, urging the worldwide community to stop turning a blind eye.
"The global community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention", Hussein said.
Thousands of migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Africa into Europe. Zeid also warned that "the detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond fix".
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"Only alternatives to detention can save migrants' lives and physical security, preserve their dignity and protect them from further atrocities", he said.
Libya's Department of Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) said nearly 20,000 people were now in their facilities, dramatically up from just 7,000 in September.
Hussein also called for domestic laws and legal migration to ensure migrants' human rights are safeguarded.
"Our monitoring, in fact, shows a fast deterioration in their situation in Libya".
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