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Parliamentary question - E-005612/2021(ASW)Parliamentary question
E-005612/2021(ASW)

Answer given by Mr Várhelyi on behalf of the European Commission

Saving lives is a humanitarian imperative and the primary objective of the EU’s border management support to Libyan authorities. The number of casualties in the Mediterranean remains unacceptably high, which is why it is important that the EU continues to support Libya in implementing its search and rescue obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea[1]. Since the provision of equipment provided by the EU was delivered in October 2020, the Libyan Coast Guard has rescued almost 3,600 people at sea in Libyan territorial waters till the end of the year, people who could otherwise have drowned. In 2021, the number of people rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard increased to around 31,000. In this context, the second phase of the EU-funded ‘Support to Integrated border and migration management in Libya’ programme also includes the delivery of specialised civilian search and Rescue vessels.

To date the European Peace Facility has not been used to finance EU action in Libya. Disembarkation is governed by international law and the laws vary depending on the geographical territory and the status of the rescuing vessel. When search and rescue operations take place on the high seas or in the Union’s territorial waters by a vessel flying the flag of an EU Member State, disembarkation takes place on Member States’ territory in accordance with EU regulations. These include international protection obligations and notably the respect for the principle of non-refoulement.

The Commission expects Libyan authorities to respect migrants’ rights and dignity and encourages constantly Libyan authorities to establish mechanisms to improve the treatment of migrants rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG), including after disembarkation of migrants in Libya. This is why EU-funded border management support to Libya includes specific trainings on human rights for the LCG. The Commission conducts regular monitoring of LCG’s activity and has put in place third-party monitoring of operations in Libya under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, with particular attention on the respect of the ‘do no harm’ principle. There is at present no evidence pointing to human rights violations in the context of EU Trust Fund border management support to the LCG.

Last updated: 11 March 2022
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