Thursday

29th Jun 2017

Most Libya migrants not headed to EU, aid group says

  • Thousands are locked up in notorious detention centres in Libya (Photo: © UNICEF/Romenzi)

Most people that end up in Libya are not seeking to leave for Europe, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The Geneva-based organisation carried out over 8,000 interviews with migrants in Libya in 2016 and early 2017.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"What comes out is that 60 percent of those interviewed had always intended to have as a final destination Libya itself," Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM's regional director for the EU, told reporters on Friday (31 March).

The prospect for jobs in the war-torn country remains a lure for many. Others either want to return home or continue onward on their trek.

Anywhere between 700,000 to 1 million migrants are thought to remain in Libya.

The IOM is also running a programme to help those who are stuck in the country to return home. The assistance includes chartering flights, as well as follow-up help once they arrive in their home countries.

Thousands have been helped over the years under the programme, which is set to receive a boost from EU funding.

Earlier this year, the EU announced that it would fund €200 million worth of projects throughout northern Africa, which are geared towards Libya and migration. Around €90 million will end up in Libya itself.

Libya government under fire

But widespread turmoil continues to grip the country, with the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli struggling to maintain a credible foothold.

Tripoli's Busetta naval base, seen as the most secure government-controlled area in the capital city, was reportedly stormed by a militia group only last month.

Aside from the militia groups, the GNA is also under fire from the Tobruk-based Libyan parliament, the House of Representatives.

The Libyan supreme court in March scrapped a migrant curbing agreement, which was signed in February between Italy and the GNA. This was due, in part, to the pressure on the deal from the Libyan parliament.

The court ruling directly challenged the authority of Libya's prime minister, Fayez al-Serraj, to secure such deals, which poses wider questions on his ability to sign off on others in the future.

The plan of the EU is to somehow stabilise the country in an effort to stem the flow of people leaving to reach Italy.

Around 181,000 made the perilous journey last year from Libya, with around 4,500 dying in the attempts.

Another 590 are feared dead out of the 22,000 who have made the same trip since the start of this year.

The EU is training the Libyan coast guard to help rescue people, but those plucked from the sea are sent to a detention centre where they face abuse and possibly even death.

The country has around 31 of such centres, with many run by militia groups and out of any government control.

Around 6,000 migrants are thought to be detained in the centres with some militias demanding ransom payments for their release.

It is unclear how the EU or the GNA intends to wrestle control away from the armed groups, who view the migrants as a valuable commodity.

The original article stated that the IOM conducted 300,000 interviews when in fact it had identified and registered 300,000 migrants in 2016. Of those, they interviewed over 8,000.

Opinion

Letting people drown is not an EU value

NGO boat rescues are being attacked as a pull for migrants, in a harsh logic that letting more people drown would discourage others from coming.

Opinion

The reality of NGO migrant rescues

NGOs rescued a huge number of migrants in 2016, but some argue it encourages more people to embark on perilous journeys to Europe. Are the critics right?

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  3. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  4. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  6. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  7. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  8. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  9. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  10. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  11. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million