Migrants are rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard in Tripoli, Libya, Nov. 29, 2019. The Libyan Coast Guard on Friday rescued more than 200 migrants off the country's western coast, the International Organization for Migration in Libya (IOM Libya) said. Libya has become a preferred departure point for migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe due to the insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi. (Photo by Hamza Turkia/Xinhua)
Migrants are rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard in Tripoli, Libya, Nov. 29, 2019. The Libyan Coast Guard on Friday rescued more than 200 migrants off the country's western coast, the International Organization for Migration in Libya (IOM Libya) said. Libya has become a preferred departure point for migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe due to the insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi. (Photo by Hamza Turkia/Xinhua)

The African Union and the United Nations (AU-UN) taskforce has reiterated its commitment to rescuing stranded migrants and refugees in Libya amid growing security concern in the country.

In its latest meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the taskforce has expressed concern over the deplorable and deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Libya, according to an AU statement on Tuesday.

Taking stock of progress made by the taskforce in 2019, the meeting deliberated on the emerging issues, including the situation of the Emergency Transit Mechanisms (ETM) established in Rwanda and Niger, status of the assisted voluntary humanitarian return program and failing humanitarian space as the conflict in Libya continues to rage on unimpeded.

The AU Special Envoy, Amira Elfadil, who is also the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, reiterated the commitment of the taskforce exemplified in the bid to expand both the mandate and geographical coverage of the taskforce to include trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, as well as to cover the G5 Sahel region.

She informed of the new Interdepartmental Taskforce on Libya created by the Peace and Security Department to coordinate AU response to the Libyan crisis.

Elfadil has emphasized the need to fast-track reintegration initiatives for returnees from Libya as well as operationalization of the three AU migration centers in Morocco, Mali and Sudan approved by the just concluded Assembly of Heads of State in order to address challenges of inadequate migration data and information.

The meeting reiterated that the establishment of the ETMs in Rwanda and Niger came as an expression of African solidarity that resonates to seeking African solutions to African problems.

The meeting was also briefed on the establishment of the AU Contact Group to prepare for the planned Inter-Libyan Reconciliation Conference and for the deployment of the AU multi-dimensional observer mission to Libya, once a ceasefire agreement has been reached.

The UNHCR said 306 persons of concern had been evacuated to Rwanda since the establishment of the ETM, while more than 3,000 were evacuated to Niger.

Based on confirmed resettlement places from some countries, UNHCR is undertaking the necessary procedures though the process is inherently slow due to its complexity.

About 630,000 migrants continued to be stranded in Libya and as of February 2020 approximately 50,000 stranded migrants had been assisted to return to their countries of origin since November 2017.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that continued limited access to detention centres and closure of Mitiga airport, as well as delayed issuance of exit visas and temporary travel documents impacts on the assisted voluntary humanitarian return program (AVHRP) as about 2,151 migrants continue to be held in various detention centres.

Whereabouts of many migrants also continues to be unknown and the growing number of internally displaced persons warrants grave concern, IOM said.

In spite of the current international efforts, arms continued to flow into Libya and that transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Libya will continue to dissuade the political process and increase risk of spirals to neighboring countries, according to Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), which has expressed concern over the situation.

The continued increased influx of migrants to Libya despite the ongoing conflict, reports of serious human right abuses and the presence of many illegal detention centres in Libya is worrisome, as organized criminal groups continue to exploit the situation and profiteer from the misery of many migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Resolving that the criminal economy was so huge and needed concerted and urgent attention to tackle human traffickers and migrant smugglers networks.

The AU-UN taskforce agreed to fast-track holding of the taskforce senior officials’ meeting to deliberate on the next steps and expansion of the mandate of the taskforce, and also to undertake measures to resolve the complex situation of Sudanese refugees in Niger.

It will also organize missions to Niger and Libya to assess the situation on ground as well as to ETM in Rwanda; brief concerned member states on the situation in Libya and engage with Libyan authorities with a view to facilitate assisted voluntary return program.

The taskforce has agreed to engage in advocacy to prevent perilous journeys, improve access to migrants in detention centers and end to arbitrary system of detention, among others.

The taskforce also expressed its keen interest to working closely with the AU Interdepartmental Taskforce on Libya and other stakeholders including the Economic Community of West African States. Enditem

Advertisements

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.