The Migration and Refugee Forum for the Arab World (MARFA) condemns the hideous murder of 30 migrants in Muzdah, western Libya. Eleven migrants were also wounded in crime committed by the family of a human trafficker in retaliation, for his death. The trafficker, a Libyan citizen accused of smuggling migrants, was killed by several of those he was smuggling, according to an official statement by the Libyan Al-Wefaq government’s Ministry of Interior, which started an investigation into the incident on 28 May 2020. The family of the murdered human trafficker killed 26 Bangladeshi and African immigrants and wounded 11 others.
MARFA supports the Libyan government’s efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of this murder, and demands that they be brought to justice; it stresses the need of concerted local, regional and international efforts to control human smuggling and trafficking, and to curb the phenomenon. Human traffickers are taking advantage of the instability and precarious security situation in Libya to exploit the vulnerability of these migrants.
Libya is considered a transit point for African migrants to Europe. The Libyan authorities first recognized as refugees Somalis who were brought to Libya in 1995 from Saudi Arabia. The chaos that engulfed Libya after the fall of Muammar Qadhafi, made the country a main transit point towards Europe for illegal emigrants fleeing poverty, persecution, wars and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.
In the absence of the rule of law, Libya is witnessing many instances of violence against migrants. For example, the Migrant Detention Center in Tajura was bombed in June 2019, which resulted in the death of 40 migrants and asylum seekers. The instability and precarious security conditions make migrants even more vulnerable and prone to be exploited by human traffickers. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that they are often held in unofficial detention centers, set up to accommodate the growing flow of migrants. For example, 4,000 people rescued at sea were returned to Libya’s unofficial detention centers in 2020, according to informed international sources.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported the disappearances of thousands, of those who were returned to these facilities by the Libyan Coast Guard. In the best of cases, their whereabouts are not known.
The continued violations of crimes against refugees in Libya highlights the dire need to restore security, resolve the conflict in the country and enforce the law as a prerequisite to protecting migrants and citizens from attack or exploitation. From April 4, 2020 until now, the death toll from clashes in the suburbs of Tripoli resulted in 5,023 dead, of whom 634 civilians (49 medical personnel, 76 women and 93 children) and 15,439 wounded.
As thus, MARFA calls on the Libyan authorities to:
· Activate the rule of law and accountability for violations of human rights and crimes against migrants.
· Build real cooperation with the UNHCR by signing international protocols and agreements, such as the 1951 Refugee
Convention, which work to preserve and protect the rights of migrants.
· Fulfill their obligations in accordance with the agreements governing the various aspects of the refugee issue in Africa
and legitimize the work of the High Commissioner for Refugees by signing a memorandum of understanding with the
MARFA also sends an urgent appeal to the international community, asking it to open channels of legal immigration and to develop a scheme for the safe mooring of boats, whereby migrants are transported to safe havens, away from conflicts and violence and where their human dignity and protection are guaranteed. At the same time, MARFA urges non-interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the southern Mediterranean and, instead, collaboration to promote development and stability, and enable peoples to solve conflicts in the countries of the south.
*The Migration and Refugee Forum for the Arab World (MARFA) emerged in response to a dire need to collectively work on advocating rights and raising awareness on issues in the region related to migrants, refugees, statelessness and the Arab diaspora through policy-level intervention.