INGOs in Libya call the European Union and its Member States to urgently revise their policies on migration as human loss becomes more imminent

The members of the Libya INGO Forum* are gravely concerned about the human cost of the European policies on migration. A shift from policies that encourage and feed a system of criminalization and detention of refugees and migrants to policies that protect the lives and the dignity of human beings is essential.

The humanitarian community witness every day the suffering of migrants and refugees in Libya where they are increasingly exposed to imminent risks as violence continues to destabilize the country.

Despite Libya’s fragile and unstable situation, the country remains at the center of EU’s efforts to prevent people from reaching its shores. Human rights violations and abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya are increasingly evidenced and acknowledged. Still the EU and its Member States’ migration policies, including the support to the Libyan Coast Guards, are indirectly enabling the return of refugees and migrants who risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean. They end up detained in inhumane conditions with very limited opportunities to exercise their right to seek asylum or access other form of international protection.

Migrants and refugees, including women and children, are at risk of arbitrary and indefinite detention in Libya. The conditions in detention centres are appalling and the lack of access to drinkable water, food, and medical services is becoming more acute as violence in the country intensifies. The vulnerable population is also exposed to grave human rights violations, including torture, sexual abuse, physical violence, extortion, and trafficking.

Libya is not a safe place where migrants and refugees can be returned, the recent surge in violence in Tripoli proves this once again. The available evacuation or resettlement options are not sufficient to bring them to safety and protect those caught up in the conflict.

The INGO Forum members and the wider international humanitarian community have a moral responsibility to respond to the current crises affecting thousands of migrants and refugees, and to protect their lives, rights and dignity. However, EU policies further exacerbate the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Libya by indirectly facilitating the return of refugees and migrants to detention. Humanitarian interventions should not be used as a reason to legitimize push-backs and pull-backs to Libya. 23 May 2019

The INGO Forum calls the European citizens and civil society to continue to raise their voice and urge EU leaders to adopt migration policies that are in line with humanitarian and human rights standards. A change towards a principled approach is paramount if EU Member States are to uphold their fundamental values and respect for human life.

  1. The EU and its Member States must urgently review their approach to migration management and prioritise policies that protect the lives and dignity of refugees and migrants.
  2. The EU and its Member States must stop indirectly supporting the return of refugees and migrants to Libya, a country torn-apart where migrants and refugees are exposed to horrific conditions.
  3. States must commit to increase resettlement places and enable emergency humanitarian evacuation of those held in detention centres to a safe place outside of Libya where protection and medical needs are ensured.

* The Libya INGO Forum is an independent and informal network of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in Libya, including migrants and refugees.

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