Africa

Libya Not Yet A Safe Port, UN Agency, IOM, Says

By Akanimo Sampson

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency, has said that she is following the UN position which indicates that Libya cannot yet be considered a safe port.  The agency made the clarification with regard to their activities in the African country.

IOM in Libya is present at the disembarkation points to deliver primary assistance to migrants that have been rescued at sea.

However, following their disembarkation, migrants are transferred to detention centres under the responsibility of the Libyan Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) over which the Organisation has no authority or oversight.

The detention of men, women and children is arbitrary. The unacceptable and inhumane conditions in these detention centres are well documented, and IOM continues to call for alternative solutions to this systematic detention. 

The number of migrants returned to Libyan shores has reached over 16,000 since January 2018, and concern remains for their safety and security in Libya, due to the conditions in the detention centres. 

IOM only has access to centres to provide direct humanitarian assistance in the form of non-food items, health and protection assistance, as well as Voluntary Humanitarian Return support for migrants wishing to return to their countries of origin. 

IOM’s access to detention centres in Libya is part of the Organisation’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of migrants but cannot guarantee their safety and protection from serious reported violations.

IOM advocates for alternatives to detention including open centres and safe spaces for women, children and other vulnerable migrants. A change of policy is needed urgently as migrants returned to Libya should not be facing arbitrary detention. 

The security and humanitarian situations in the country remain dangerous, and IOM reiterates that Libya cannot be considered a safe port or haven for migrants. 

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