An early February statement from the GNA’s Ministry of Finance said some public officials were not being paid. You can use this tool to change your cookie settings. More than 6,500 asylum seekers and migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard so far this year. In parallel, the number of migrants arriving in Italy and Malta after having crossed the Mediterranean Sea from the Libyan and Tunisian shores between April and October 2020 … By supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, Italy has made itself complicit in this abuse,” said Marie Struthers. The UN estimates that some 3,200 migrants are being held in detention centres officially run by the GNA-affiliated DCIM and controlled by armed groups in the west of the country. “It was the same food routine everywhere: one piece of bread for each person and, in the evening, a plain pasta dish for every six people,” said one of the DCIM employees. “But today nobody is bothering about food [in detention centres].”. International Organization for Migration (IOM). At least 20 migrants and refugees died when their boat capsized off Tunisia’s coast as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa, Tunisian authorities said. The Ministry said in a statement that the most recent flight was destined for the state of Rwanda and left on December 29, 2020 accommodating 130 migrants as part of the humanitarian return program. The public discourse around migration in Italy has also changed dramatically since 2014. The U.N. Is Leaving Migrants to Die in Libya. It also explained that 316 migrants have died while 417 others went (Hannah Wallace Bowman/MSF/REUTERS), ‘I’m waiting for my documents, but if I don’t get them I’ll go by sea.’, ‘You will not be considered for evacuation or resettlement if you stay.’, They are ‘literally just taking a humanitarian activity and labelling it as a crime’, 25 years of journalism from the heart of crises, both sides said Monday that they were suspending participation, Yacoub El Hillo, said last week that the conflict, 645,000 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Libya, In a letter dated 13 February and published this week, European foreign ministers announced a new naval mission, pressure from populist European governments, UN’s mission to Libya said that conditions. 2020. In 2017, the number of people departing from Libya dropped dramatically. “The detention centres are very crowded,” the senior official said. Situation at EU External Borders – Arrivals Down in First Half of 2020. Libya news - updated 24/7/365. “But we feel that outside the detention centre we will be in danger.”, With additional reporting from Annie Slemrod. Sign up to receive our original, on-the-ground coverage that informs policymakers, practitioners, donors, and others who want to make the world more humane. Two sources in the DCIM said the company contracted by the GNA to bring food to the detention centres has been unable to work for more than two months in the west of the country due to the deteriorating security situation. Susan Rice to be in Biden White House . ‘Everyone is facing danger. As a major part of Europe’s strategy to stop smuggling, EU countries (led by Italy) have spent more than 90 million euros ($97 million) since 2017 on providing training, equipment, ships, and assistance to the Libyan Coast Guard. US Election 2020. Even before the past months of fighting worsened Libya’s downward spiral, conditions inside the centres were desperate. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue. Italy should demand that Libya release all the refugees and migrants currently held in its detention centres, and that it close those centres once and for all.”. Since fighting erupted in Tripoli, Libya, on April 4, 2019, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for the urgent evacuation of detained refugees and migrants whose lives are in danger as the conflict rages around them. ... Italy and France in spat after French police drug tested migrant. Earlier this month, Italy renewed the Memorandum of Understanding that governs its cooperation with the GNA authorities. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. Mohammed al-Shibani, the GNA’s undersecretary at the interior ministry – in charge of the DCIM – admitted there was an issue with food provision in detention, although he said the problem was not a lack of cash. Middle East. The number of NGO-operated search and rescue ships patrolling the Mediterranean has dropped significantly under pressure from populist European governments. One person from Darfur, who spoke to TNH via WhatsApp from a detention centre near the Libyan coast, said, “people are crying hysterically”, having learned they are unlikely to be evacuated from Libya. Members of the Italian-trained and EU-funded Libyan Coast Guard told The New Humanitarian they are not being paid, and the Tripoli-based government is struggling to feed people in its often-criticised migrant detention centres. Over 200 migrants have disembarked the humanitarian vessel Open Arms off the coast of Sicily and are undergoing quarantine. The pandemic accelerated trends towards more restrictive migration policies and a disregard for the human rights of asylum seekers and migrants in 2020. Instead, he said the company contracted to provide food in the centres had been unable to work because of the violence spreading across Libya. Last week, European foreign ministers announced a new naval mission – a revamped version of Operation Sophia, which aimed to disrupt smuggling networks in the Mediterranean but stopped using boats in March 2019 – to help enforce an arms embargo that the UN says has been consistently violated. Right-wing populist parties, such as Salvini’s League, have stoked anti-migrant sentiments, pushing aside a humanitarian narrative that was more prominent in the past. Most of the money has come from the EU Trust Fund for Africa and from Italy, which has taken the lead in working with the GNA-affiliated force. Many – but not all – were taken to detention centres. Tens of thousands have fled fighting in Libya’s capital.   |   Al-Shibani of the Ministry of Interior said “the food problem” was not the GNA’s fault, but rather “the company cannot operate properly due to the security situation”, adding that the government had signed contracts with new catering companies, and “we are hoping they will start operating as soon as possible”. Untold numbers of households from Chad to Egypt to Sudan depend on remittances from Libya. Further, their lives remain at risk due to the escalation of the ongoing conflict. The Italian government had originally committed to negotiate amendments to address the dire situation of refugees and migrants in Libya; however, although the Italian government has so far failed to secure the amendments, it will continue to cooperate with Libya nonetheless. There are thought to be more than 645,000 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Libya. But while conditions in the centres are often reported as horrific, some people inside have been left wondering what will happen if they are closed down without any warning, given reports of widespread abuse of migrants across the country. 2019. According to the Coast Guard sources, the Libyans deploy when instructed to do so by an “operations centre” in Tripoli, which includes the Italian navy. The EU’s cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard – part of a programme called “integrated border management and migration management to Libya” – has come under heavy scrutiny. The officer – sent last year to Italy for training along with dozens of other Coast Guard members – said he and his colleagues were still doing their jobs, but were often not reporting to duty until they were called upon. IOM estimates that in February 2020 there were at least 654,000 migrants in Libya. Italian fishermen held in Libya freed after more than 100 days December 17, 2020 8:23 pm By Hannah Roberts US and Turkey target each other in NATO meeting December 1, 2020 10:50 pm By David M ... Migration Latest news, analysis and comment on migration in Europe and beyond. Italy on Wednesday defended its policy on blocking migrants in Libya, saying the deal, denounced as "inhumane" by the UN, was essential to stop boat departures towards Europe. In its reply to the Council of Europe commissioner, Italy said its overall objective is to “progressively replace the current system based on detention centres with new formulas, adhering to the principles of the rule of law, victim-centred, and human rights oriented”. On 30 January, UNHCR announced that it is suspending its operations at the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF), a transit centre inaugurated just over a year ago in Tripoli, fearing for the safety and protection of people at the facility, its staff and partners. “It has happened in the past that we couldn't reach the DCIM and we were not able to bring people to the detention centre,” said a Coast Guard spokesperson. Libya: Renewal of migration deal confirms Italy’s complicity in torture of migrants and refugees. Migrants and asylum seekers held in detention centers remain subject to abhorrent conditions of detention, and face serious abuses including torture and rape, as well as overcrowding. Latest figures say 4,265 migrants have reached Italy so far in 2019, down 78 percent on the same period in 2018 and down 96 percent on 2017 levels. News Open Arms rescue ship brings 255 migrants to Italy . “Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants are trapped in an escalating war-zone. In a reply to the commissioner’s letter, Italian authorities said that while they are “fully aware that there is room for improvement in the cooperation” with Libya, overall they believe engagement with the country has been effective in countering people-trafficking on the Mediterranean and reduced the number of attempted crossings. Many migrants are still being brought to detention centres after they are intercepted at sea, but in other cases, DCIM sources said, intercepted migrants were not being detained because the centres were too dangerous to reach or because there was no way to provide them with even the most basic services. Neither the EU nor the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to requests for comment from TNH in time for publication. To date, no one has been held accountable for the airstrike. Since the EU and Italy began training, funding, equipping, and providing operational assistance to the Libyan Coast Guard in 2017, that number stands at … Hayden, Sally. “Everyone is facing danger,” he said. Refugees and Libyans.’. If you are talented and passionate about human rights then Amnesty International wants to hear from you. News comment on search and rescue in the Central Mediterranean by Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, 01 May 2020 UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for greater coordination, solidarity and responsibility-sharing, in view of the increased movements of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. “The Italian and Libyan governments must agree to update the terms of their cooperation, focusing on the protection of refugees and migrants, the evacuation of those currently held in detention centres, and the creation of safe and legal ways for people to get to Europe.”. Foreign Policy, September 10, 2019. Permissions However, the source said, in some “emergency situations” where migrants have been completely without food, the WFP has stepped in to help. On 2 July 2019, dozens of migrants and refugees were killed and injured following an airstrike on a detention center belonging to the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM). The Red Crescent oversees three shelters in Medenine — one for migrants, one for asylum seekers and one for women and children — with the support of International Organization for Migration and the U.N. Other sources put the number closer to 5,000, and it is unclear how many migrants are being held elsewhere, either in parts of the country the GNA does not control, or in locations humanitarians are simply not aware of. The IOM said, on Wednesday, that among the returned migrants this year, 811 women and 711 children. But as the weather improves and the sea is calmer, migrants are still attempting journeys from Libya. The renewal, and the initiative in general, has been knocked by rights groups, given that the Coast Guard regularly returns the people it intercepts at sea to migrant detention centres back on land. “Libya is a prison,” he said. Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. The Memorandum of Understanding was initially signed in an attempt to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching  Italy’s shores by keeping people in Libya. Italy has paved the way for tens of thousands of undocumented migrants to become legal residents by applying for work permits. As Libya descends further into chaos and faces an ongoing monetary crisis, many of the country’s institutions have begun to collapse, including some of those responsible for migration. More than 10 months into a conflict that is wreaking havoc across Libya, civilians are enduring increasing danger and hardship, in particular hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom are hoping to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. The governments decided to extend the deal October 2019. Find Italy Migrants Latest News, Videos & Pictures on Italy Migrants and see latest updates, news, information from NDTV.COM. In the first six months of 2017, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy dropped by around half. “I have not been paid my salary for four months now, and this will be the fifth month,” one of the officers, based in the Mediterranean port city of Khoms, told TNH. There was already a lack of sufficient food in the centres – the UN report highlighted widespread malnutrition – but now, according to sources inside the DCIM, some migrants are not being detained because there is nothing to feed them at all. Freelance journalist focused on conflict, human rights and humanitarian issues. The evacuated group included men, women, and children from Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia. “I have not been paid my salary for four months now, and this will be the fifth month.”. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide. The latest breaking news, ... Italy threatens to send migrants back to Libya unless Europe steps in. In a letter dated 13 February and published this week, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights urged Italy to suspend its work with the Coast Guard despite the recent renewal of its agreement, saying, “I am gravely concerned about certain types of assistance provided to Libya, in particular to the Libyan Coast Guard, which have resulted in increased interceptions of migrants and asylum seekers at sea, and their subsequent return to Libya, where they are subjected to serious human rights violations.”. While numbers are not definite, it is estimated that between 3,200 and 5,000 of them are being held in GNA-affiliated centres across western Libya, where conditions are often desperate, and abuse is rife. The Ministry of Interior reported that the number of migrants deported from Libya during the year 2020, reached 5,360 migrants. The UN agency also said it provided assistance to another 79 people who were returned to Libya by coast guards, while "eight others are reported missing at sea." 30 January 2020, 17:10 UTC. Relatives of the 18 fishermen from Mazaro del Vallo, Sicily, seized by Libyan forces in September 2020, gather in front of a banner reading "Free the fishermen of Mazara" | Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images Migrants float on a rubber dinghy during a rescue operation by the MSF-SOS MEDITERRANÉE-run Ocean Viking ship off the Libyan coast, 18 February 2020. Available online. Covering the latest news on the north African country. Human rights advocates and aid groups slammed Italy on Friday for deciding to extend a deal that facilitates the return of Europe-bound migrants to detention centers in Libya … These include 947 people intercepted this month alone,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Europe Director. 98 Europe-bound migrants who were rescued by a commercial ship flying a Portuguese flag have been returned to Libya via the Libyan navy.   |   Refunds of donations. As Libya descends further into chaos and faces an ongoing monetary crisis, many of the country’s institutions have begun to collapse, including some of those responsible for migration. “It defies comprehension that, despite the evidence of suffering inflicted as a direct result of this abhorrent deal, and despite the escalation of the conflict in Libya, Italy is prepared to renew it. Frontex. The UN’s migration agency, IOM, says at least 1,700 migrants have been intercepted or rescued by the Coast Guard and brought back to Libyan shores since the beginning of this year. The Italian government should suspend all support to the Libyan Coast Guard until Libya commits to a clear plan to fully respect migrants’ safety and rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Cookie Statement The move came as part of a 55 billion euro ($59.6 billion) stimulus package approved on Wednesday by the coalition government to help the sagging Italian economy, which has been battered by the effects of the coronavirus. According to several sources in the GNA’s Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), some migrants – upon interception by the Coast Guard in the Mediterranean – are no longer being brought to detention, as has been common practice, because the government is unable to feed them. The move drew fire, in part because some European politicians said the mission would withdraw its ships if they proved to be a draw for migrants leaving Libya’s shores and hoping to be rescued. Italian fishermen held in Libya freed after more than 100 days Prime minister and foreign minister flew to Benghazi as announcement was made. During the three years since original deal was struck, at least 40,000 people, including thousands of children, have been intercepted at sea, returned to Libya and exposed to unimaginable suffering, Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants are trapped in an escalating war-zone, By supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, Italy has made itself complicit in this abuse, ONE YEAR TOO LONG: BURUNDIANS ARBITRARILY DETAINED FOR THEIR JOURNALISM, Russia: Authorities use farcical surprise “hearing” to keep Aleksei Navalny behind bars, Tunisia: Authorities must refrain from using unnecessary and excessive force against protesters, Russia: Aleksei Navalny becomes prisoner of conscience after arrest on arrival in Moscow. Available online. Italy agreed to train, equip and support the Libyan Coast Guard and other Libyan authorities, with the aim of allowing them to intercept people at sea and return them to Libya. Explore more on Italy Migrants. Since early April, fighting in and around the capital has pitted Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the militias that back it against eastern forces led by general Khalifa Haftar. Most were living in Tripoli, but others had previously been held in detention, some for several years, according to the UN “Refugees and Libyans.”. Those who try to escape by sea risk interception and return to detention centres, often in conflict areas. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has confirmed that 11891 illegal immigrants who tried to flee Libya were intercepted or rescued and returned so far this year, compared to 9,225 in 2019. The decision by the Italian government to ignore the horrific abuses being inflicted on tens of thousands of people in Libya, and renew the Italy-Libya deal that traps them in the war-ravaged country, is a shameful display of how far EU governments are prepared to go to keep refugees and migrants from Europe’s shores, said Amnesty International. Stay on top of Libya latest developments on the ground with Al Jazeera’s fact-based news, exclusive video footage, photos and updated maps. Under the deal, Italy helps Libyan maritime authorities to stop boats at sea and return people to detention centres in Libya where they are unlawfully detained and face serious abuse, including rape and torture. Over 80 migrants, including women and children, were taken back to Libya within 24 hours by Libyan coast guards, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) tweeted on January 4. Migrants, who are part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast, rest upon arriving at port in Arguineguin, in the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, 16 October 2017. But Italy does not directly pay salaries and – despite denials of any problems with payments from the Coast Guard spokesperson – three officers insisted they were not being paid. The return was confirmed by the IOM. Peace efforts have so far failed to secure a lasting truce – both sides said Monday that they were suspending participation in UN-backed talks – and the violence has forced nearly 150,000 people to flee their homes. Another source in the DCIM contested this allegation, and said the reason for the lack of food was that the government had not paid the catering company. ... 11 migrants drown off Libya; third shipwreck in week. A spokesperson for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, confirmed this was “a trend we have observed”. That includes vulnerable people who came to the country to escape conflict. Refugee Agency. “It’s difficult to deal with this,” they added. The 98 migrants, attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe, were picked up by the Portuguese-flagged commercial ship MS Anne on Monday, May 25. Home News. Meanwhile, a UN source, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said that the World Food Programme does not generally provide assistance inside detention centres because of both a lack of access and the international community’s opposition to their existence. We link to the best sources from around the world. After rescuing 265 migrants in two operations in the Mediterranean Sea within three days, Italy has allowed the Spanish flagged rescue ship Open Arms to bring its passengers to the Italian island of Sicily. News release, July 13, 2020. “They feel safer here than they did in Libya, but at the same time they feel stuck.” Word is out. Your choice regarding cookies on this site “During the three years since original deal was struck, at least 40,000 people, including thousands of children, have been intercepted at sea, returned to Libya and exposed to unimaginable suffering. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) evacuated on Thursday a group of 79 asylum-seekers from Libya to Rwanda for the first time in nearly a year. “We are doing our best to keep them running.”.   |   On 2 February, exactly three years after it was first signed, the Memorandum of Understanding on Migration between Italy and Libya will be extended for a further three years with no amendments. The UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Libya, Yacoub El Hillo, said last week that the conflict is "severely impacting civilians in all parts of the country on a scale never seen before". 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