The tripartite task force of the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), and UN is to support stranded African migrants in Libya, while consolidating efforts to dismantle organised networks of human traffickers and migrant smugglers.
As they wrapped up the meeting of the task force of AU-EU-UN on Thursday, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Amira Elfadil, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs told a news conference that the situation of migrants in government-controlled detention centers has improved markedly.
The Commissioner, who is also AU Special Envoy to Libya, has expressed concern that the situation of migrants in Libya still warrants serious attention as the task force can only account for migrants under government detention centres and not those under private detention and several militia groups.
She said the task force has been working to repatriate African migrants to their countries of origin or to other third countries.
According to the Commissioner, the task force has managed to repatriate more than 16,000 migrants from Libya.
She said the number of migrants in government-controlled detention centres has reduced from 20,000 in November 2017 to about 3,400 during her last visit to Libya in February.
Elfadil said the task force has been endeavoring to upscale returns, working with concerned member states, in collaboration with the Libyan authorities and the international community and partners.
“We have managed to repatriate more than 16,000 migrants; more than 1,000 of them were refugees taken to Niger to
be taken to be resettled in other countries, or in third country; and the rest we took them to their countries of origin.
“There is a process of reintegrating them in their countries of origin, this reintegration process is with support of the member states themselves, countries of origin, plus packages of integration being delivered by IOM,” she said.
The Commissioner further said that there are efforts involving committee of intelligence and security service of Africa to dismantle organised criminal works operating in Libya.
She said neighbouring states and that are profiteering from the misery of migrants, including human traffickers and smugglers of migrants.
Also addressing newsmen, Mohammed Bisher, Head of the Anti-Illegal Migration Authority of Libya, said African migrants are being taken care of at the government-controlled detention centres.
He said they they are provided with foods and medical care services among others.
“We had more than 27,400 refugees since Sept. 17, 2017, and now 5,600 are there now, those who are in the centres, detention centres.
“Some of whom came after being saved from the sea or they just came voluntarily waiting for being returned to their own countries after being recognized by their countries and after being provided with the documents, travel documents,” he said.
Bisher noted that the migrants are in detention because the outside is not safe for them and due also to the economic
situation in Libya.
“The 5000, most of them are from the six countries that the UNHCR giving them the right to go to the third country, whether through Niger or Libya to Italy or other countries that are willing.
“These are from countries categorised as politically unstable, that is why the UNHCR shoulder the responsibility.
“So, we host them until being repatriated or being returned to third country,” he added.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the number of migrants in Libya still remains high at about 621,706.
The IOM said some of whom have been in Libya for decades even before the collapse of the Gadhafi regime in the northern African nation.