Dialogue Program „The situation in Libya and its repercussions on irregular migration flows in the Mediterranean“ - Regional Programme Political Dialogue and regional Integration in the Southern Mediterranean
Considering the continuously high numbers of refugees trying to reach Europe via the Central Mediterranean route through Libya and the persistent migratory pressure from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Regional Program South Mediterranean and the Department of Migration and Refugee Issues of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung invited a delegation of eight experts from different institutions such as the German Bundestag, the Federal Ministries, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, and think tanks to Tunis from 30 to 31 January 2017 for a dialogue program. Through bilateral meetings and discussions, the program aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the current situation in Libya and its repercussions on migration flows in the Mediterranean region.
Over the course of the two-day program, several bilateral meetings were held with representatives of international organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as embassies and think tanks. Among others, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General and Chief of Mission of the UN Support Mission in Libya spoke to the participants about the current situation in Libya and perspectives for the peace process.
The expertise of the meeting partners provided for insightful discussions on the current political and humanitarian situation in Libya – with a focus on the situation in the detention camp for migrants and refugees – as well as current trends and challenges concerning migration movements in the Mediterranean. The impact of the situation in Libya on its neighboring countries – particularly Tunisia – was another topic of discussion.
The discussions painted a clear picture of Libya as highly conflicted and divided country, in which several groups enjoy legitimacy in particular regions but no group or government has the power or legitimacy to control the entire country. Moreover, armed militias play an important role. The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has failed to institute control over Libyan territory and remains weak in its control of national institutions. The Libyan Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), which is under the auspices of the GNA, is set to coordinate migration-related issues and is thus also responsible for the country’s detention centers. Its control over these centers however remains limited due to the strong role of armed militias running the centers – which causes grave issues of accountability for human rights abuses in these centers.
Furthermore, the weakness of the GNA leaves the international community without a clear partner in Libya with whom to work on a better management of migration flows to and from Libya. EU efforts to train the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) to save lives on sea and bring people back to Libya after being picked up are seen critically by experts given the conditions in the detention centers.
The different perspectives and varied issues discussed during the meetings served to provide the delegation with a deeper understanding of the issues at play, and helped to clarify remaining challenges as well as the scope but also the limitations for international action in the current situation .