Tineke Strik (The Netherlands, SOC), PACE rapporteur on “countries of transit: meeting new migration and asylum challenges”, today called on European states and organisations to make Libya a priority as they develop new policy and operational responses to the growing migration crisis in the Mediterranean.
Ms Strik spoke at the conclusion of an exchange of views held by the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced persons with Samer Hadaddin, UNHCR Chief of Mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, IOM Chief of Mission for Libya and Dr Franck Düvell of Oxford University’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society.
“The chaos in Libya is contributing to the increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean,” said Ms Strik. “Conflict and instability in Libya mean that even migrants who might otherwise have stayed there will be forced to seek safety and protection in Europe. In the meantime, they are at risk of lengthy, arbitrary detention in appalling conditions and violent ill-treatment at the hands of migrant smugglers and traffickers.”
“European countries must contribute to the restoration of peace, the promotion of national unity and the development of effective public authorities in Libya,” she continued. “If these results are achieved, Libya can play an important role as a safe country of destination for both economic migrants and refugees, with a coast guard and police force able to co-operate with European authorities in search and rescue operations and the fight against migrant smuggling. If they are not, Libya will remain a safe haven for migrant smugglers and the key staging post for migrants forced to take the maritime route to Europe.”
“In the meantime, European states must take urgent action to save lives by reintroducing a robust search and rescue operation in the central Mediterranean,” she concluded.