IOM: “Not all migrants in Libya want to go to Europe”

Humanitarian Support to Migrants and IDPs by IOM teams. [Photo: IOM]
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has dismissed the notion that all migrants currently in Libya aim to come to Europe.

The organization estimates that out of 650,000, “a few ten thousand migrants in Libya have the right to international protection.”

Federico Soda, director for the Mediterranean at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on Monday told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper that “not all of the 650,000 migrants who are currently staying in Libya” want to get to Europe.

Soda estimates that “a few tens of thousands of migrants in Libya have a right to international protection.” Those needed to be “evacuated quickly” – but not exclusively to Europe: “Other countries have offered help, too, for example Canada,” the expert said.

While Soda noted that not all migrants in Libya are exposed to “such acute human rights violations” as those in the detention camps, he nevertheless criticized the “catastrophic” conditions there.

“Humans are jammed together, there’s no access to sanitary facilities and no medical support,” Soda said. “Once they are in, they cannot leave unless they pay for their way out.”

He called the exploitation of migrants a “business model for some of the militias in the country.”

Soda urged the international community to also take care of other migrants in Libya. “It is necessary that the people there are provided documents in order to have a minimum level of security.”

As soon as the situation has been pacified, many of them could find work again on-site, Soda added.

In mid-July, Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete had told German newspaper Bild that “those in Libya must leave immediately for a safe country.”

“We are hearing about half a million people in the hands of smugglers or in Libyan refugee camps that we have to get out,” she said.

The response to her comments from German politicians was mixed. Ulla Jelpke, a spokeswoman for domestic affairs for the Left Party (Die Linke), said on Twitter the government must “make it possible for all refugees in Libya … to be admitted to Germany.”

But Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) accused Rackete of aiming way too high.

“We cannot just readily accept half a million economic refugees or people coming to Europe due to poverty,” he told Bild, referring to the low protection rate for refugees from Africa. In the first six months of this year, fewer than 20 percent of all asylum requests from African migrants were approved in Germany.

Consequently, more than 80 percent “don’t stand a chance of recognition and a permanent right to stay” in Germany, Herrmann said.

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