September 19, 2021

IOM and partners working to empty Libya’s detention centers

2 min read

Amid growing international outcry over the reports of despicable acts of horrendous abuse perpetrated against African migrants and their enslavement in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is now working with partners to empty the barbaric detention facilities in Libya.

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing speaking yesterday to the UN Security Council by videoconference alongside Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing has told the UN Security Council that the UN Migration Agency is working with UN partners on a plan ‘to try to empty the detention centers’ in Libya of around 15,000 migrants.

DG Swing said the plan by IOM and the UNHCR to empty the government detention centers will require agreement from the Libyan government and help from the home countries of the migrants, the African Union, the European Union and third countries to take migrants who don’t want to be returned home.

DG Swing told the Security Council, IOM had already taken 13,000 migrants out of Libya so far this year and flown them back to their respective countries, under its Voluntary Humanitarian Returns programme.

While briefing the Security Council, High Commissioner for Refugees calls Slavery, other abuses in Libya ‘Abomination’ that can no longer be ignored.

Filippo Grandi said more than 116,000 people had crossed the sea from North Africa to Italy in 2017, many of them refugees.

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He said the international community’s inability to prevent and resolve conflict was at the root of their flight, he explained, adding that migrants were exposed to appalling harm, including torture, rape, sexual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labour.  More than 17,000 refugees and migrants were currently detained in Libya, and many more were held by traffickers under the protection of well‑known militias.

He went on to state that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had successfully secured the release of almost 1,000 asylum seekers and refugees in 2017.  Plans for a transit centre in Tripoli were awaiting endorsement by Libya’s Government of National Accord, he said, adding that he had called for 40,000 additional resettlement places in transit and asylum countries along central Mediterranean routes.  However, to date, there were indications of just 10,500 places.

“Robust measures were required to address human trafficking, for which UNHCR had made specific recommendations, including the freezing of assets, travel bans, disruption of revenues and materials, and robust prosecution of traffickers,” he reiterated, adding that too often, previous methods had centred on how to control and deter, which could have a dehumanizing effect, he said, underlining the need for comprehensive investment in a set of political, security and human rights solutions.

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