Returnees arriving in Lagos. Critics say that if the current pace of evacuation continues, it would take years to remove migrants from Libya / Photo: NAN

Only 3,100 migrants repatriated from Libya – officials

The European Union and the African Union say at least 3,100 migrants who were stranded in Libya have been returned to their home countries in the past two weeks. A new task force, which also includes the UN, aims to repatriate another 15,000 migrants from Libya by February, AP has reported.

Following the CNN footage that showed African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves, EU and African leaders in Abidjan agreed on a plan on 29 November to evacuate migrants stranded in Libya. Since then several African nations working the International Organisation for Migration have begun bringing home hundreds of their citizens. However, more than 700,000 migrants are thought to be stranded in dozens of detention camps across the North African country. Critics say that if the current pace of evacuation continues, it would take years to remove migrants from the country.

Migrants in a centre detention near Tripoli. International organizations say more than 700,000 migrants are stranded in Libya, many of whom are in detention across the sprawling country / Photo: UNHCR


The low number of migrants repatriated from Libya so far supports the position of the human rights campaign group Amnesty International, which has described the evacuation plan as unworkable.

Franziska Vilmar, who works on asylum law and policy at the German branch of Amnesty International, told the German international broadcaster DW on 1 December that the plan was “unrealistic because the government neither runs all the camps nor does it have influence over them”.

She said it was “practically impossible to get everyone out of there”.

Amnesty has also accused the EU of being complicit in grave human rights violations in Libya through their support for authorities there that often work with people smugglers and torture refugees and migrants.

Sola Jolaoso

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