Addis Ababa, April 5th , 2018: The AU-EU-UN Task Force on the Stranded Migrants situation in Libya held the Eighth meeting of the Task Force on 29 March 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Madam Amira Elfadil, the Special Envoy of the Chairperson and Commissioner for Social Affairs and attended by the Head of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority of Libya. The meeting was also attended by the EU Deputy Head of Mission to the AU and the directors from the IOM and UNHCR.
The Commissioner of Social Affairs & Special Envoy of the Chairperson in her opening remarks recalled the briefing of the AU and EU Member States by the Task Force on 5th March 2018, noting that much had been achieved since then. The Member States briefing was held immediately after the Joint Mission of the tripartite Task Force to Libya to ascertain obstacles that continue to impede assisted voluntary return programme and strengthen efforts of several stakeholders to address the plight of migrants in Libya.
The Commissioner noted in her summation that the situation had improved and, further echoing the need to address obstacles that still subsist such as challenges of reintegration and fast-tracking resettlement option to third countries. Challenging the Task Force to further seek ways to attain accurate statistics of migrants in Libya for more enlightened programming.
The Commissioner reminded members of the Task Force’s mandate that comes to an end in May 2018 and took the opportunity to thank the Libya authorities for the close cooperation this far, especially in actions taken to dismantle the business model of detention centres and organized criminal networks, working closely with the AU and concerned Member States. The Commission to Commission meeting in Brussels on 23 May will also be an opportunity for the EU and AU to discuss the way forward.
The Head of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority of Libya Mohammed Ali Bishr on his part, commended the efforts of the Task Force and applauded the Joint Mission of the Task Force to Libya held on 22 February which served to exemplify the close cooperation between the Task Force and concerned Member States. Noting that progress had been made in addressing the plight of migrants in Libya, and reporting that 20 detention centres had been closed post the Joint Mission of the Task Force and that 5,856 migrants were in detention centres.
He reiterated that Libya would spare no efforts in addressing the situation of stranded migrants in Libya and pledged to continue cooperation, considering the sensitivity of the matter and the need for a comprehensive approach to address the situation, in countries of origin, transit and destination countries. He called for both technical and financial support to enable Libya provide training for its staff working in detention centres, including training for police officers on human rights, rescue operations, psychological support and provide short courses to migrants in the centres in different languages. Further, emphasizing Libya’s commitment to close all detention centres and cooperate with its neighbouring member States to reinforce bi-lateral, multi-lateral and regional agreements with the aim to better manage irregular migration and protect migrants’ rights from being perpetrated upon by smugglers and traffickers.
The IOM representative informed the meeting that a total of 11,479 migrants have been returned since the Abidjan Summit in November 2017 through IOM Voluntary Humanitarian Return Programme (VHR). She highlighted that since 2017, 16,000 migrants had received general reintegration support and over 5,000 have received additional reintegration support, including support to set up small businesses at the community, collective or individual level. She further noted the need for a comprehensive approach to conclusively resolve the Libya migration situation, as well as alternative livelihoods in source countries and a raft of measures to support Libyan authorities in better migration management is critical.
The meeting was also informed by the UNHCR representative that 42,800 refugees were registered in Libya before the current events and UNHCR had attained offers from about 20 European Member States for resettlement option. However resettlement was noted to be very slow process. Persons of Concern were being moved directly from Libya for resettlement or to Niger for processing. UNHCR is looking for other options for Evacuation & Transit Mechanism.
The meeting noted with concern the pressure being exerted on Libya from continuous inflow of migrants and further noted the importance of support from the international community in providing basic services to stranded migrants like medical services, as well as support from concerned Member States in providing consular services, issuance of temporary documents and support to the reintegration efforts in abide to upscale the assisted voluntary return programme.
Finally, the Task Force welcomed the proposals presented by the Libyan authorities to address the migrant situation it faces and reassured Libya of its support and close engagement. The CISSA will also step up its cooperation with Libya and concerned African Union Member States bordering Libya to secure its South border which is a heaven for criminal networks and, with the European Union Member States to dismantle organized criminal networks with bases in Europe. The proposed for another Joint Mission of the AU-EU-UN Task Force to Libya later in June 2018 was also welcomed as its mandate comes to an end in May 2018.
For more information please contact:
Beatram Okalany, Migration Expert, Social Affairs Department: Email: OkalanyB@africa-union.org