Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

EU Commission: Libya unfit for migrant disembarkation

  • People rescued at sea and returned to Libya often find harsh conditions (Photo: © UNICEF/Romenzi)

The European Commission says Libya fails to meet basic international standards for disembarking rescued migrants, after an Italian ship reportedly unloaded some 100 people at a port near Tripoli.

Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud on Tuesday (31 July) said a person's life must not be threatened and that housing, food, and medical needs must be met before disembarkation can take place.

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.

... or join as a group

"The Commission has consistently maintained that it does not believe these conditions are being currently met in Libya," she said, citing an international convention on maritime search and rescue.

The EU has trained over 230 Libyan coast guards to pluck people at sea and return them to Libya - a programme that has attracted criticism from charities given the country's open slave markets and notorious detention centres.

But Bertaud's comments were linked to an Italian towboat that reportedly unloaded rescued people in Libya.

"Without knowing the specific details about this operation and under which authority the ship is operating, we cannot comment on this specific case. We are in touch with the Italians to find out more," she said, when pressed.

The allegation was made on Monday (30 July) by Oscar Camps, the founder of Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish sea search and rescue NGO.

In a tweet, he said that the Asso 28 Italian oil rig support vessel had been instructed by the Italian coastguard to disembark 108 people in Libya.

"The Asso 28, with an Italian flag, rescued 108 people in international waters and is now deporting them to Libya, a country where human rights are not respected. No chance [for them] to get asylum or shelter," he said.

But the Italian coastguard on Tuesday said the Libyan Coast Guard had both coordinated and "managed the whole operation".

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in a tweet, said disembarking migrants in Libya from the Italian-flagged ship "could represent a violation of international law."

The confusion points to a wider disarray among the EU in its efforts to better manage migration and refugees.

The commission is now trying to get coastal states around the Mediterranean to coordinate rescues in an effort to prevent others from making the dangerous journey.

On Monday in Geneva, the United Nations refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration convened a meeting to discuss proposals on search and rescue operations and disembarkation.

The meeting was held behind closed doors.

But according to the commission, all coastal states around the Mediterranean were represented.

"In general there was consensus among participants on the need for strengthened cooperation and coordination and a willingness to continue discussions," it said.

EU to restrict refugee resettlement options

The European Commission unveiled concept papers on centres in the EU and platforms in north African states where disembarked migrants would be screened for protection or sent home. Plans build on EU summit conclusions but remain vague.

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission says it is ready to boost spending in Morocco when it comes to stop migrant hopefuls from reaching Spain by boat. The money follows demands for help from Madrid as irregular arrival numbers spike in Spain.

Migrant death rate spikes despite EU 'safety' priority

Death rates of people crossing from Libya to reach Italy has spiked from 1 in 64 in the first five months to 1 in 16 in June and July alone. Yet the EU maintains their safety is a main priority.

Libyan militia cash in on EU's anti-smuggling strategy

More people in Libya are being inducted into slavery as people-traffickers try to monetise their investment by selling them. A senior UN refugee agency official described it as an unintended side effect of the reduction of migrant boat departures.

EU court: Denmark's family-reunification law 'unjustified'

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered a blow to Denmark's strict family-reunification laws. The ruling will likely cause headaches for its new left-leaning government given its stance on immigration, and opens up 8,000 pending cases.

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  2. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  3. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?
  4. Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency
  5. MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?
  6. EU commission has first-ever woman president
  7. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  8. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us