UNHCR urges for sanctions on smugglers in Libya to stem immigration

INDONESIA / East Timor / Returned IDPS / Dili Port / UNHCR / M. Kobayashi / 28 October 1999

The U.N. refugee agency is calling on the U.N. sanctions committee to extend international sanctions on the sale of weapons to Libya to include financial and travel bans on human smugglers and traffickers responsible for gross violations against refugees and migrants.

“We need absolutely to take radical action,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean, Voice of America reported the study as saying.

A new UNHCR study issued Monday documents the abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants in Libya that push them to make the journey in smugglers boats across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, Voice of America added.

The United Nations reports there have been 84,830 arrivals in Italy this year, an 18 percent increase over 2016. It estimates at least 2,070 people have died making the crossing, Voice of America also reported.

The study, which was conducted between August 2016 and March 2017, found most of the African refugees and migrants in Libya are young men traveling alone, and women, particularly from West and Central Africa, are victims of trafficking, Voice of America cited the study as saying.

It reports the number of unaccompanied and separated children traveling alone is rising and now “represents some 14 percent of all arrivals in Europe via the Central Mediterranean route.” It notes these children mainly come from Eritrea, the Gambia and Nigeria, it added.

While most of those arriving in Libya are considered economic migrants, the Libyan authorities have acknowledged the lives of people from seven areas would be at risk if they were sent back. They come from Syria, the Palestinian territories, Eritrea, the Darfur region of Sudan, the Oromo region of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Iraq, according to the report by Voice of America.

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