Thursday

19th Jul 2018

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

  • The IOM has helped return some 20,000 from Libya to their home countries last year (Photo: unsmil.unmissions.org)

Around 20,000 people left Libya for their home countries last year under an EU funded programme. But the project had planned for a far fewer, triggering problems for some returned.

Run by the Geneva-based International Organisation for the Migration (IOM), the programme aims to provide migrants stuck in Libya with opportunities once back in their home communities. Such efforts are meant to help people rebuild their lives - also known reintegration assistance.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

In 2017, it planned to help 5,000 leave the war-torn country, but ended up with four times that number.

"This means that the strain on the assistance to integration of the country of origin has been particularly high because of the success, paradoxically of the return operation," said Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM's Europe director, on Monday (12 February).

"We had to try, and we are still trying, to scale up the reintegration assistance," he said.

The IOM says it is helping people who have volunteered to leave Libya, a country plagued by conflict, slavery and host to dozens of prison-like detention centres.

Libya is the main staging point for people from across Africa and other conflict-ridden areas in their effort to seek refuge in Europe. Last year, around 119,000 disembarked from its coastline to reach Italy by boat.

Those caught at sea by the EU-trained Libyan coastguard are sent back to the country where they face abuse. Estimates put the figure of people detained in Libyan centres at around 20,000, or a three to four-fold increase when compared to late last year. Those figures have since dropped again to below 5,000, according to Libyan authorities.

Some of those detained are released to the IOM and sent home where they are helped.

The organisation says it seeks to tailor long-term needs for each individual person, in the hope that it will also benefit the wider home community.

Since November, It has stepped up operations, along with the African Union, and helped 8,581 up until earlier this month. Altogether some 13,500 were helped given that some were also assisted by African Union states. Most ended up in Nigeria, followed by Mali and Guinea.

Mixed integration bag

People are returned to their home countries in four ways. Three are voluntary and one is forced. The mixed bag is causing headaches for people who end up in the same community but with entirely different integration approaches.

"The level of assistance and the type of reintegration assistance that these different programmes offer is not the same," noted Ambrosi.

Among the most long-term support options is the IOM's voluntary scheme, which is entirely funded by the EU trust fund for Africa and was launched in 2015. The programme is said to offer individual and community-based solutions crafted alongside input from local authorities.

Second, the IOM also helps carry out voluntary returns from individual member states, often financed through the EU's asylum, migration and integration fund (Amif).

Such returns are also often designed and decided upon by interior ministries, and generally have different goals than those crafted by development agencies.

Third, member states have their own direct individual return and reintegration programmes run by other institutions. The fourth option is forced return.

Money woes

Some EU states will offer in-kind support, used to set up a business, training or other similar activities. Others tailor their schemes for different countries of origin.

Some others offer cash handouts, but even those differ vastly.

Sweden, according to a 2015 European Commission report, is the most generous when it comes to cash offered to people under its voluntary return programme.

It noted that in 2014, the maximum amount of the in-cash allowance at the point of departure/after arrival varied from €40 in the Czech Republic and €50 in Portugal to €3,750 in Norway for a minor and €3,300 in Sweden for an adult.

Anti-migrant Hungary gave more (€500) than Italy (€400), the Netherlands (€300) and Belgium (€250).

However, such comparisons on cash assistance does not reveal the full scope of help given that some of the countries also provide in-kind reintegration support.

This article was updated on Wednesday (14 February) at 12:55 to reflect the differences between integration and reintegration. It also added that the number of people detained in the Libyan centres have dropped. It noted that the total returns since November was 13,500 and that the cash comparisons do not reveal the full range of support.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Niger has temporarily stopped all evacuations from Libya detention centres under an EU funded programme because so few are being resettled to Europe. Many of those that have been evacuated are pregnant, with some asking for HIV testing.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us