A new report by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) on mixed migration in Libya highlights that the lack of effective protection measures leaves migrants, refugees and asylum seekers exposed to abuse, violence, exploitation, arrests and detention. The report recommends that the disproportionate European focus on border controls needs to be rebalanced with increased refugee resettlement quotas in Europe and support for the creation of asylum and migration systems in Libya.
“It is a widespread misconception that all migrants in Libya are in transit on their way to Europe – in fact the large majority of sub-Saharan and West African migrants are only in Libya to work. The lack of protection however, is an obvious ‘push factor’ out of Libya for the relatively small population of asylum seekers. The lack of legal access forces them to undertake dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean – It is estimated that 19,142 migrants have died at sea since 1998,” said Nigel Clarke, Country Director for DRC Libya
“Europe’s focus on ‘stemming the flow’ of migrants has contributed to a situation in Libya characterized by unclear policies and reactive measures. Libya’s economy depends on migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa but there are very limited possibilities of legal employment and asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution in places like Syria and Somalia have no access to asylum procedures. Mixed migrants are unprotected, marginalized and at the mercy of anyone who wants to abuse them,” added Melissa Phillips, Senior Programme Officer for DRC in Libya.
According to UNHCR, Libya hosts almost 30,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. In 2011, estimates of Libya’s migrant population ranged between 1.5-2.5 million.
DRC has been present in Libya since 2011 providing assistance to people in need, as well as working with the Libyan authorities to introduce much needed protection measures. The report is based on interviews with over 1,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Tripoli and Sabha.