Libyan 'rape' victim deported from Qatar

UN refugee agency criticises deportation of the Libyan woman who claimed she was raped by Gaddafi's troops in March.

    The US government has expressed concern for the safety of the deported Libyan woman [GALLO/GETTY]

    A Libyan woman who said she was raped by Muammar Gaddafi's troops has been deported from Qatar where she sought refuge, and is now in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a UN official has said.

    Iman Al-Obeidi flew via Qatari military jet to the opposition-held city of Benghazi, where she is now staying in a hotel, Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR representative in Washington, told the AFP news agency on Friday.

    Jalal el-Gallal, an opposition spokesman, told the Associated Press news agency that al-Obeidi was welcome to stay.

    "This is her country," el-Gallal said.

    The UN refugee agency said Obeidi had refugee status and should have been allowed to stay in Qatar. It said her deportation runs contrary to international law.

    Obeidi "is a recognised refugee, and we don't consider there is any good reason for her deportation," agency spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes told the AP.

    'Gang-raped'

    Obeidi made headlines in March when she rushed into the Rixos Hotel in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where most foreign correspondents stayed, and narrated her story of being stopped at a checkpoint, dragged away and gang-raped by soldiers loyal to Gaddafi.

    She disappeared for several days, then turned up in Tunisia and later Qatar. She was heard from little until Thursday, when she was suddenly expelled from Qatar.

    Obeidi has maintained that she was targeted by Gaddafi's troops because she is from Benghazi.

    The US government has expressed concern for the safety of al-Obeidi.

    Mark Toner, the US state department spokesman, said the US was "monitoring the situation" and working to ensure her safety.

    "We're concerned for her safety, given all that's happened to her. And we're going to work to make sure that she's kept safe, first and foremost, and that she finds appropriate asylum," Toner said.

    Human rights violations are one aspect of the Libyan opposition's complaints against the Gaddafi regime.

    This week, a report by a UN body said it found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Gaddafi's government, and also charged that the opposition has committed abuses.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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