The joint European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) Task Force visited Tripoli last week welcoming progress made evacuating and returning migrants and refugees out of Libya. EU has announced three new programmes, for protecting migrants and refugees in Libya and along the Central Mediterranean Route, and their return and reintegration. Bundestag Research Services and NGOs raise concerns over EU and Member State support to Libyan Coast Guard.
Representatives of the Task Force, created in November 2017, met with Libyan authorities last week and visited a detention centres for migrants and a shelter for internally displaced people in Tripoli. Whilst they commended progress on Voluntary Humanitarian Returns, they outlined a number of areas for improvement. These include: comprehensive registration of migrants at disembarkation points and detention centres; improving detention centre conditions- with a view to end the current system of arbitrary detention; decriminalizing irregular migration in Libya.
The three new programmes announced on Monday, will be part of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. €115 million will go towards evacuating 3,800 refugees from Libya, providing protection and voluntary humanitarian return to 15,000 migrants in Libya and will support the resettlement of 14,000 people in need of international protection from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. €20 million will be dedicated to improving access to social and protection services for vulnerable migrants in transit countries in the Sahel region and the Lake Chad basin. €15 million will go to supporting sustainable reintegration for Ethiopian citizens.
A recent report by the Bundestag Research Services on SAR operations in the Mediterranean notes the support for the Libyan Coast Guard by EU and Member States in bringing refugees and migrants back to Libya may be violating the principle of non-refoulement as outlined in the Geneva Convention: “This cooperation must be the subject of proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights, because the people who are being forcibly returned with the assistance of the EU are being inhumanely treated, tortured or killed.” stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the German Left Party (die Linke). A joint statement released by SAR NGO’s operating in the Mediterranean calls on the EU institutions and leaders to stop the financing and support of the Libyan Coast Guard and the readmissions to a third country which violates fundamental human rights and international law.
According to UNHCR, there are currently 46,730 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Libya. 843 asylum seekers and refugees have been released from detention so far in 2018. According to IOM 9,379 people have been returned to their countries of origin since November 2017 and 1,211 have been evacuated to Niger since December 2017.
For further information:
- EASO, EU-Libya relations, 22 January 2018
- ECRE, Broad Humanitarian response in Libya – return operations for vulnerable migrants running resettlement efforts remain modest, 2 February 2018
- ECRE, In cold print: Europe guilty of complicity in human rights violation in Libya, 15 December 2017
- ECRE, Italy strengthens engagement in controversial migrant management initiatives in Libya, 8 February 2018
- ECRE, Op-ed: Externalizing brutality to Libya is not an answer to displacement, 1 December 2017
- ECRE, Strong reactions to atrocities in Libyan quagmire – emergency measures fall short of addressing fundamental issues, 8 December 2018
- ECRE, Weekly Editorial: Not all roads lead to Libya, 1 December 2017
- Relief Web, UNHCR Flash Update Libya (17-23 February 2018), 23 February 2018
Photo: (cc) Ken Douglas, August 2006
This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.