The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday called for an urgent European action against returning irregular migrants to Libya.
“Nearly 6,000 migrants who tried to flee Libya were intercepted or rescued and returned so far this year. Most end up in detention. Some are unaccounted for. European action is urgently needed to end returns to Libya,” IOM tweeted.
“The situation continues to deteriorate. Countless lives lost, others detained or held by traffickers in unimaginable horrors. The EU needs to take action to end returns to Libya’s migrant limbo and show more solidarity with frontline states,” tweeted Federico Soda, chief of the IOM mission to Libya.
IOM said on Monday that more than 2,300 migrants are detained in dire conditions in Libya, calling for orderly release of detained migrants.
IOM has maintained that Libya is not a safe port for rescued migrants and that the detention system must be dismantled, as thousands of migrants, either rescued at sea or arrested by the authorities, remain detained in shelters in Libya.
Because of the state of insecurity and chaos that plagued Libya since the 2011 fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, many irregular migrants choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya toward Europe.
Before the Libyan authorities closed the country’s borders as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, IOM had been running a Voluntary Humanitarian Return program that arranges the return of migrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin.