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EU support for Libyan coastguard at odds with new initiative to save lives
On the sidelines of the AU-EU summit in Abidjan, the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union have announced they will put in place a joint EU-AU-UN task force “to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya”.
Reacting to the news, Oxfam International's Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, Natalia Alonso, said:
“Refugees and other migrants who escape Libya tell of slavery, torture, and kidnapping. European and African governments have a duty to protect the human rights of all people and that includes migrants. Initiatives to protect people in Libya, including from the inhumane conditions in detention centers and from the risk of violence and abuse from criminal forces, is a welcome and important step.
“However, at the same time, the EU’s support for the Libyan coastguard contributes to stopping and returning people who are trying to escape the hell they are facing in Libya. There is almost no rule of law or protection for migrants in Libya. Unless the situation drastically improves, sending people back there is at odds with Europe’s rhetoric of helping them. Migrants who are crossing the sea to escape Libya should never be stopped and returned back to danger there.
“Libya is a fragile state that needs justice, rule of law, peace and protection for everyone in the country. European governments should focus on that instead of looking at Libya as a gateway to Europe that must be closed. Together with African countries, the EU must provide humanitarian and peace-building support to Libya and its people. Security initiatives must not focus on border protection only, but ensure that people are protected.”
- Spokespeople are available in Abidjan and Brussels for interviews and background.
- According to a joint UN-AU-EU statement, the new task force is intended to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes to and in particular inside Libya, accelerating the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin, and the resettlement of those in need of international protection.
- A recent Oxfam report based on testimonies of migrants who escaped from Libya exposes the rape, torture and abuse faced by migrants in the country.
- Oxfam calls for a change of approach in the EU’s Migration Agenda, which sets Europe’s policies on migration. An Oxfam report, based on extensive field experience, highlights the danger, abuse and denial of basic rights that people face, linked to the Migration Agenda’s policies. Oxfam has developed eight principles for a more humane and effective approach.
- Read more about Oxfam’s work with refugees and other migrants in Europe and across the globe.
Aissatou Sall | Abidjan | firstname.lastname@example.org | mobile +221 772 234389
Florian Oel | Brussels | email@example.com | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60