Migration deal with Libya exposes people to suffering and death

Reacting to the informal EU summit in Malta on migration, Oxfam International's Deputy Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, Natalia Alonso, said:

“EU leaders in Malta say they are committed to human rights and international law, but Italy has struck a dodgy deal with Libya with no safeguards for these principles. The fact that all EU governments have welcomed the Libya deal, which makes no attempt to increase Libya’s commitments to people’s rights whilst shutting off the route to Europe, shows their duplicity.

“So-called ‘irregular migrants’ arriving in Italy have told Oxfam about the horrific abuses they faced in Libya, a place they call ‘hell’. The EU’s commitment to support the implementation of the Italian agreement with Libya exposes people in need to suffering and even death, and it deals a serious blow to core EU values.”

Notes to editors: 
  • Spokespeople for interviews in Brussels are available.

  • On Thursday, the Italian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Libya. It commits Italian and EU funding for migration management.

  • In their Malta declaration, EU heads of state and government state “the EU welcomes and is ready to support Italy in its implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding”.

  • The memorandum does not include any obligations for Libya to increase its commitment to international law and human rights. It only refers to "international obligations and human rights agreements to which the two countries are parties". Libya is not even signatory to the 1951 refugee convention.

  • The Italian commitment to provide support to regional authorities in Libya is only linked to the presence of irregular migrants, rather than being delivered based on the actual needs of people.

  • Security measures and support to border construction and control is linked to irregular migration, with no apparent safeguards for human rights.

  • Oxfam has laid out guiding principles for EU cooperation with Libya that puts the rights, the safety and the dignity of people at the forefront.

  • Oxfam is working with migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy. Their testimonies are documented in the report ‘Hotspots – Rights denied’ (pages 31-34).

  • According to data from the Italian Ministry of Interior , 39% of people that arrived in Italy in 2016 were granted international protection.

Contact information: 

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfaminternational.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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