EU Reports Reveal Libya’s Reason For Migrant Detentions


Since 2000, the number of migrants from conflict countries in Africa attempting to cross the Mediterranean has geometrically increased. The influx has been unmaintainable and has forced several European governments to institute strict border policies. Until recently, the Guardian reports explain how preventing migrants from entering Italy via Libya is a joint agreement between Libya and the EU. A 13-page paper reveals a multimillion-euro deal provided by the EU and Italy to Libya for the Libyan coastguards to intercept migrants in the Mediterranean. This has been a “profitable business model” for Libya but aims at blocking migrants from the European shores.

Despite the untold and undocumented violence meted on migrants in Libyan detention facilities, the EU has provided an extra €5m to Libya and the deal will be continued.

Below are some points enumerated from the presidency of the EU council for a “high-level working group on asylum and migration”:

  • There are an estimated 17 to 35 official and unofficial facilities with some run by the militia. 3,700 of the presumed 5,000 people are detained in “conflict areas.”

  • Bribery, corruption, non-registration of migrants and links to human trafficking groups is rampant at these centers.

  • The paper adds the Libyan government is indifferent to report regular “disappearances” of people arrested by Libyan coastguards.

  • According to humanitarian organizations, detainees are coerced by camp officials into forcing relatives to pay for their release.

  • In July, not less than 53 men, women and children were killed and 130 injured when a detention facility near Tripoli, in which 644 migrants and refugees had been detained, was bombed. Sadly, the bombed-out centre was then swiftly refilled with people provided by the Libyan coastguards.

  • The detention camps are overcrowded with poor sanitary facilities, food and water supply.

Statistically, the people arriving in Italy from Libya have dropped from 107,000 in 2017 to about 13,000 in 2018, and to just 1,100 by August this year. The Libyan coastguards have intercepted 5,280 people as of August 2019.

Even though the European parliament’s civil liberties committee has interrogated EU officials as the Labour MEP Claude Moraes sought full disclosure of the human cost, there is a need for human consideration before policies are made.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch MEP on the committee, said: “Over the years, billions of euros have flown into Libya with the sole purpose of keeping migrants away from Europe. It is part of Fortress Europe, the European equivalent of Trump’s wall. Just a lot more lethal than the wall…”

The EU has to be responsible to devise humane alternatives to handle the migrant crisis. As unpredictable conflicts have erupted in the last decades, resolutions to curb its eminent effects should include the protection of fundamental human rights. Rather than detaining migrants under harsh conditions, the Libyan government should deport them back to their countries. Preventing people from crossing to Europe through death and harsh measures will never solve the ongoing migrant phenomenon.

Sarah Namondo