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Migrants being rescued in the Mediterranean by the humanitarian organisation Sea-Watch on 1 January 2018. So far this year, just over 3,500 migrants are recorded to have crossed from Libya to Italy. "Human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, resulting in major human rights violations," said the report / Photo: Sea-Watch

Libyan security forces involved in people smuggling: Report

In a new report to the UN Security Council, sanctions’ experts warn that most armed groups involved in human trafficking in Libya have links to the country’s official security institutions. They further note that militant groups, including the so-called “Islamic State” (IS), overpower authorities. Kai Dambach reports.

The United Nations Security Council received a confidential report that said Libyan forces may be assisting rebel groups in order to tighten their control of smuggling routes.

“Human trafficking is on the rise in Libya, resulting in major human rights violations,” said the report, according to AFP. The report also stated that members of the so-called Islamic State (IS) are looking to join smugglers in southern Libya.

“Armed groups, which were party to larger political-military coalitions, have specialized in illegal smuggling activities, notably human smuggling and trafficking,” said the UN Security Council, according to Reuters.

The UN report comes after recent images of migrants and refugees being tortured and sold into slavery by captors in Libya emerged. Most of these migrants and refugees come from other parts of Africa in order to attempt to make it to Europe.

Armed groups overpowering authorities

The panel raised concern “over the possible use of state facilities and state funds by armed groups and traffickers to enhance their control of migration routes.”

UN-backed authorities in Libya have set up a department to stem illegal migration, the DCIM, assisted by EU member states in areas of technical support. The DCIM runs 24 detention centres for migrants and have a staff of 5,000 workers. Yet they are easily overpowered, the report warns.  A minister of the UN-backed government of national unity admitted to the panel that “the armed groups are stronger than the authorities in handling the flow of migrants”, according to AFP.

Amnesty International has warned of arbitrary detention and torture happening in these camps and has called the EU as being complicit in these abuses.

IS network in southern Libya

IS is attempting to regain a stronghold in southern Libya after being forced out of Sirte in 2016. The group is using “large quantities of cash” to develop a network in the south of the country, and “emissaries also tried to link up with smuggling groups, offering protection and seeking long-term sources of financing,” said the report.

Libyan authorities have not been able to take control of the east of the country, as a rival group refuses to recognize the government authorities.

“A political solution in Libya remains out of reach in the near future,” concluded the report. “Military dynamics in Libya and conflicting regional agendas show a lack of commitment to a peaceful solution.”

Smuggling hub

Libya has been a smuggling hub for years, as hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees were sent to Europe, mainly Italy, since 2014. The smuggling business became more lucrative after Moammar Gadaffi was removed from power in 2011 and since the European refugee crisis began in 2015. 

So far this year, just over 3,500 migrants are recorded to have crossed from Libya to Italy, about 60 percent fewer than during the same period last year, according the Italian Interior Ministry.

© InfoMigrants

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