The head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that although there are currently about 5,000 migrants being held in official detention facilities in Libya, that number may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Antonio Vitorino criticized “the violation of migrants’ rights” in Libya in a speech to the United Nations on Wednesday (Mar. 8), calling for an end to the practice of holding refugees in detention.
The UN agency IOM works with the UNHCR to assist migrants being held in authorized detention facilities in Libya.
Following the chaos brought on by Moamer Kadhafi’s murder and the overthrow of his government in 2011, Libya became a popular migration route for many people from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.
The UN frequently criticizes these for the poor conditions they are in.
potentially fatal journey
When it comes to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, Vitorino urged the European Union to be “clear” and “predictable,” particularly with regard to the security of embarkation points.
When migrants try to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to get to Europe, authorities stop them. Some are brought back to the Libyan coast and put in detention facilities.
Italy is the preferred location for North African asylum seekers due to its geographic location, but a new law passed in January restricts the number of rescue operations that humanitarian ships can perform at once.
Although Vitorino claimed that his agency met with Italian officials last week “exactly to address the situation,” he provided no additional information about the conversation.
Human rights groups protested last October against the extension of an agreement between Italy and Libya to keep migrants and refugees from entering Europe.