Human Rights Watch is urging Italy and the European Union to condition their support to Libya on tangible improvements in detention conditions for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

The New York-based rights group says in a report Monday that unquestioning foreign support for Libya’s coast guard leads to migrants being held in “arbitrary, abusive detention.”

It condemned such efforts to stem migration to Europe as contributing “to a cycle of extreme abuse” against people fleeing war and poverty.

The report documents “severe overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of adequate health care” in detention centers, including at least four instances of violent abuse by guards.

It says children have also been seen to be held in poor conditions.

In this photo taken on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, a Sea-Watch ship approaches a dinghy boat to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. (Jon Stone/Sea-Watch via AP)
In this photo taken on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, a Sea-Watch ship approaches a dinghy boat to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. (Jon Stone/Sea-Watch via AP)

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