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The lack of effective protection measures leaves migrants, refugees and asylum seekers exposed – facing abuse, violence, exploitation, random arrests and detention.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) report on mixed migration in Libya highlights the adverse conditions for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers that results in a shrinking space for mixed migrants who are extremely marginalised in Libyan society. The report recommends that the disproportionate European focus on border-control needs to be rebalanced with increased refugee resettlement quotas in Europe and support for the creation of distinct asylum and migration systems in Libya.
DRC has been present in Libya since 2011 providing direct protection and assistance to mixed migrants as well as working with the Libyan authorities to introduce much needed protection measures. The bulk of the data collection was conducted by DRC’s Protection Teams in Tripoli and Sabha interviewing 1,031 migrants and asylum seekers.
“Europe’s focus on ‘stemming the flow’ of migrants has contributed to a situation in Libya characterized by unclear policies and reactive measures. Libya’s economy depends on migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa but there are very limited possibilities of legal employment and asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution in places like Syria and Somalia have no access to asylum procedures. Mixed migrants are unprotected, marginalized and at the mercy of anyone who wants to abuse them,” says Melissa Phillips, Senior Programme Officer for DRC.
No accurate statistics are available in 2013 but prior to the Revolution in 2011, estimates of Libya’s migrant population ranged between 1.5-2.5 million. According to UNHCR Libya hosts almost 30,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers.
“It is a widespread misconception that all migrants in Libya are in transit on their way to Europe – in fact the large majority of sub-Saharan and West African migrants are only in Libya to work. The lack of protection however, is an obvious ‘push factor’ out of Libya for the relatively small population of asylum-seekers. The lack of legal access forces them to undertake dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean - It is estimated that 19,142 migrants have died at sea since 1998,” says Nigel Clarke, Country Director for DRC Libya
Among the recommendations in the report is support for the creation of distinct asylum and migration systems in Libya and increased refugee resettlement quotas in Europe.
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