Steer clear of Libya, group advises Nigerian migrants

  • Migrants crossing Mediterranean declined to 128,863 in 2017

Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) has advised Nigerian migrants wishing to go to Libya to steer clear of the country.
It stated that in view of the foregoing, migrants leaving for Libya now would be toying with their lives.
The group disclosed policies aimed at reducing the number of migrants arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa, especially Libya, are trapping refugees in the region where they are exposed to harsh living conditions and widespread human rights abuses.
Co-Project Director MEPN, Femi Awoniyi, in a statement he sent to from Berlin, Germany pointed out developments which he said are drastically curtailing the prospects of crossing the Mediterranean by would-be migrants.

He listed the developments as relating to Libya’s United Nations-backed Government of National Unity issued a directive in August 2017, compelling Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to rescue ships to seek official permission before entering Libya’s waters to carry out rescue operations.
He noted that this means there would be less search-and rescue missions for capsized boats and increasing fatalities among those crossing the Mediterranean on these boats.
Awoniyi also stated that increased European cash aid to many Libyan coastal towns has enabled them to clamp down on the activities of people smugglers, adding that similarly, Italy’s financial support for Libya’s coast guards has enabled a more effective patrol of the nation’s coasts. –
His words, “Inhabitants of coastal towns are tired of seeing dead bodies of migrants, whose boats had capsized in the Mediterranean, washing up on their beaches are forming vigilante groups to curb the activities of people smugglers”.

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“All these developments are pushing migrant smugglers into taking more dangerous routes with smaller, even more overcrowded boats. Although the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean between January, 1 to September 13, 2017, has dramatically declined to 128,863 from 293,806.”
During the same period in 2016, some experts said that the proportion of those dying at sea had risen.
There is an ongoing internal conflict in southern Libya not to mention that the country as a whole is still contending with ISIS and other radical extremist groups, with divisions between two warring governments and a crumbling economy.

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International organisations estimate that between 800,000 and one million migrants are in Libya waiting to make the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.
The illegal route to Europe is dangerous enough but it has now become more lethal. This year alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration, more than 2,550 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean with many more believed to have died en-route.
Awoniyi stated that in Libya, many migrants seeking employment or trapped in transit are exposed to hash living conditions and widespread human rights abuses.

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He lamented that some are traded as slaves for ransom, labour or sex by gangs of human-traffickers and many die in the appalling conditions of detention facilities run by criminals and militias.
He recalled that international organizations have also published credible reports, documenting regular and severe human rights violations of refugees and migrants in official Detention Centres.
“The MEPN would therefore like to advise would-be Nigerian migrants intending to reach Europe through irregular routes, such as Libya, to reconsider the journey. We implore them to rather seek legal travel channels”.

Wole Shadare