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The EU should develop a more human and coherent approach to improve the situation of refugees in Libya, said Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes after visiting the country.

Mr Moraes (S&D, UK)  travelled to Libya as part of an EP delegation headed by Inés Ayala Sender (S&D, ES), Chair of the Delegation to Maghreb countries. They visited a detention centre, a shelter for internally displaced people and met with local authorities and representatives of international organizations.

 

Detention centres must be closed

 

“Talking to migrants and refugees in the Tariq Al Siqqa Detention Centre was very emotional. It remains essential to move towards the closure of these centres where people live under appalling conditions”, Mr Moraes noted.

 

“The Civil Liberties Committee needs to continue to closely scrutinise EU activities in Libya and the use of EU funds. It is essential that the EU response puts the human aspect first”, he added, calling for more funds to address immediate needs in detention centres and training of staff in human rights.

 

Voluntary returns and resettlement via Niger

 

Referring to the schemes offering voluntary returns, Mr Moraes pointed to “several obstacles obstructing a significant number of refugees and migrants in Libya to benefit from this option, such as the requirement of exit visas or the UNHCR mandate and its limitations imposed on certain nationalities”.

 

He also warned about the likely funding gap if the current pace of voluntary returns is maintained. In this context, Mr Moraes urged EU Member States to assure quick resettlement of refugees from Niger, to absorb all those evacuated from Libya.

 

Role of the Libyan coast guard

 

The strengthened relationship with the Libyan coast guards was also raised during the meetings, with the EU providing training, vessels and setting up a shared information system on irregular migration in the Mediterranean.

 

“We need to assure that the EU approach puts human rights at its centre. We have to scrutinise in detail how the EU budget is used for the purpose of migration management and the activities of our agencies on the ground”, Mr Moraes concluded.

 

Next steps

 

Following the missions to Niger (April 2018) and Libya (May 2018), the Civil Liberties Committee is organising a hearing in Brussels, with representatives of IOM and UNHCR, as well as Nigerien parliamentarians, on 4 June.

 

Background

 

The situation on the ground in both Libya and Niger is of great interest for Civil Liberties MEPs. Their concerns focus on the reception of persons in need of international protection, the fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, resettlement, readmission and reintegration, and the use of EU funding for these aims.

 

The EU is engaged in Libya and Niger through the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF for Africa) which finances various projects with partners such as IOM and UNHCR. IOM runs various programmes, notably for the voluntary return and reintegration of migrants in their country of origin. As for UNHCR, it is responsible in particular for the resettlement programme of people evacuated from Libya.