Connect with us

News

Eritrean migrants face torture in Libya: What the international community can do

Eritrean migrants face torture in Libya

Tens of thousands of East and West African migrants face violence, abuse, torture and loss of life as they transit through Libya to reach the Mediterranean.

Are the migrants victims of human smuggling, human trafficking or neither? In the absence of a stable government in Libya, what can European countries do to prevent the loss of life and torture of migrants in Libya?

As a crime against humanity, the international community is obligated to protect these migrants under the United Nations responsibility to protect commitment, meaning that international states should take action to collectively protect migrants in Libya.

We have been researching irregular migration, migrant smuggling and human trafficking from Asia and Africa to Europe for several years. Our research has made us aware of the complexities of the realities on the ground for migrants. We compared those realities with international conventions and policy categories designed to help migrants.

Despite the torture and extortion that these transit migrants may face, they cannot benefit from some form of protection, upon arrival in Europe. This is because they lack a clear codified status corresponding to their situation.

Smuggled, trafficked or neither?

Migrant smuggling involves a voluntary agreement between a prospective migrant and a smuggler, at least in theory. The smuggler facilitates the irregular transit and entry into a country, the migrant pays for their services. Their relationship finishes at the completion of the agreed journey.

By contrast, human trafficking involves an element of deception and coercion and also exploitation at the place of arrival not present in migrant smuggling. Again, this is in theory. Also, trafficking does not require the crossing of international borders.

READ  JIFORM signs MoU with Institute of Innovation (DII), US for members' training

According to the UN definition of human trafficking, acts can include recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons. These are all acts that are also involved in the smuggling of migrants.

But the purpose of these acts may not be simply about profit. They also involve exploitation such as sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or the removal of organs.

These definitions and the distinction that arises from them tend to become meaningless in situations such as those along the trans-Saharan African routes where there are no clear state authorities.

Although many migrants pass through Libya, our most recent study looked specifically at the experiences of Eritrean migrants coming to Italy via Libya. Our research does not represent all migrants in Libya.

Eritrean migrants enter Libya in the southeast; this is Tebou territory. Since the fall of Muammar el-Qaddafi and the end of his 42-year-long brutal regime in 2011, Libya has been ruled by tribal regimes and the Tebou have strong control over their territory.

Eritrean migrants face torture in Libya

Migration controls are enforced by para-state actors such as the different tribes and their semi-formal accords with the UN-recognized government of Libya as well as other tribes and actors in the country.

Kidnapped and extorted

Eritreans leaving Sudan for Libya know and expect that they will be kidnapped and extorted in Libya. There is no deception involved. They are brought to the Libyan-Sudanese border by smugglers from Khartoum and are told to wait.

READ  114 Ivorians, Guineans, Liberian migrants return home from Algeria amid COVID-19 with IOM assistance

When the Libyans arrive, they are taken to compounds where they call their families and connections to transfer money for their release. They are not allowed to leave until their family pays. Many are abused while they wait for the payment.

READ ALSO: Nigerian girl held captive in Lebanon cries for help

Once the payment is made, most often, the Eritrean migrants are brought North and pushed toward the Mediterranean sea. When they arrive in Italy, the ordeal is over and they no longer have a relationship with their captors in Libya.

We argue that this is not migrant smuggling as there is no initial agreement made between two parties. This is also not human trafficking — there is no deception nor coercion and the relationship ends after leaving Libya. This is kidnapping and extortion, and can best be addressed as a crime against humanity.

What can the international community do?

What are the moral and international law obligations for countries of arrival when migrants or asylum seekers have been victims of a crime against humanity?

Can we break free from the migrant smuggling and human trafficking definitions and adopt an international protection regime for these migrants or asylum seekers when they arrive in European Union territory?

Today, Libya witnesses the emergence of a tribal regime that has replaced the state and has its own informal rules. Libya’s history is based on tribal authorities that were united for its independence in 1951 and were carefully managed and appeased under Muammar el-Qaddafi. Post-Qaddafi, we note the return of the tribe as an important political actor.

READ  IOM aids COVID-impacted communities on Haiti-Dominican border, worldwide

Paradoxically, out of fear of uncontrolled migration, actors like the International Organization for Migration and the European Union provide operational support in Libya and Niger, hoping to re-establish the basic rule of law conditions and control the borders.

This effectively, however, contributes to the reinforcement of the tribal regime by indirectly legitimizing tribal authorities.

As the EU seeks a durable solution to the Mediterranean migration flows, countries of arrival could adopt an international protection regime for these migrants or asylum seekers when they arrive in European Union territory and protect people who have been victims of crimes against humanity.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
18 − 2 =


News

UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

READ  114 Ivorians, Guineans, Liberian migrants return home from Algeria amid COVID-19 with IOM assistance

Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  NIgeria flays insugents' attack on UN humanitarian helicopter

 

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

READ  Women struggle to get by as Yemen conflict hits six-year mark

“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  Tories vote down plan to help reunite unaccompanied child refugees with UK families

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

READ  IOM aids COVID-impacted communities on Haiti-Dominican border, worldwide

“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

READ  Women struggle to get by as Yemen conflict hits six-year mark

IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

Trending