Amnesty international warns situation in Libya for refugees has worsened

The situation for refugees in Libya has worsened, with authorities keeping refugees in unlawful detention centres and refusing to hand them over to UN refugee agency's care

Findings published by the organization on Monday, showcase how EU member states’ policies to curb migration
Findings published by the organization on Monday, showcase how EU member states’ policies to curb migration

The situation for refugees in Libya remains bleak and in some respects has worsened said Amnesty Intentional.

A year after the images that showed human beings bought and sold in Libya caused global outcry, the situation for migrants and refugees in these countries appears to have in some cases worsened.

“Cruel policies by EU states to stop people arriving on European shores, coupled with their woefully insufficient support to help refugees reach safety through regular routes, means that thousands of men, women and children are trapped in Libya facing horrific abuses with no way out,” said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.

Findings published by the organization on Monday, showcased how EU member states’ policies to curb migration, as well as the failure of member states to provide sufficient resettlement places for refugees.

The publication of the findings coincided with a meeting of Libyan and other world leaders gathering in Palermo on 12 and 13 November.

The conference was intended to find a solution to break the political stalemate in Libya, Amnesty is calling for those taking part to ensure that human rights of all people in the country, including refugees and migrants are placed at the centre of their negations.

The NGO empathised that this behaviour continued to fuel a cycle of abuse by trapping thousands of migrants and refugees in Libyan dentation centre with substandard condition.

According to findings by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), it has registered 56,442 refugees and asylum seekers in Libya.

However, despite calls by the UNHCR for European countries and other governments to offer resettlement to refugees stranded in Libya, only 3,886 resettlement places have been pledged by 12 countries and in total just 1,40 refugees have been resettled from Libya and Niger so far.

It noted that Italy separately evacuated 312 asylum seekers from Libya to Italy between December 2017 and February 2018.

“Over the past two years EU member states have put in place a series of measures to block migration across the central Mediterranean, boosting the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept sea crossings, striking deals with militias in Libya and hampering the work of NGOs carrying out search and rescue operations,” said Amnesty.

Furthermore, the NGO has said that it is these policies which have contributed to a nearly 80% drop in the number of refugees and migrants crossing the central Mediterranean and arriving in Italy.

Between January and November 2017, 114,415 refugees attempted to cross the central Mediterranean, while in 2018 only 22,232 have attempted to cross.

Amnesty stated that because the central Mediterranean Sea route is “completely shut off”, and Libyan authorities are keeping refugees in unlawful detention and refusing to release them to UNHCR’s care. The only way out of Libyan detention centres is through evacuation to another country via programmes run by the UN.

"At the same time as doing their utmost to stop sea crossings and helping the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea and send them back to notorious detention centres, European governments have catastrophically failed to offer other routes out of the country for those most in need,” said Morayef.

Concerns have also been raised in Tripoli, where August and September of this year, the situation for refuges and migrants worsened as some of them were held in detention centres after being wounded by stray bullets.

A proposed solution is the opening of an UNHCR processing centre in Libya, that would offer safety for up to 1,000 refugees by allowing them to relocate from current detention centres. However plans to open a centre of this nature have been repeatedly delayed.

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