Call for a humanitarian evacuation

of the 250 eritrean, ethiopiean and somali refugees blocked in Benghazi

Migreurop network is in contact with a group of 250 Eritrean, Somali and Ethiopian refugees who are currently blocked in Benghazi, Libya.
They launch a warning cry by denouncing the dangerous situation which they are now in. Despite their protection request, they were only offered to be transferred to Egypt by bus at the expense of the IOM (International Organisation for Migration). They declined an offer which, according to them, doesn’t address their protection need. They expressed the wish to meet with representatives of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

Among them are people in exile who spent months, sometimes years, in the Libyan prisons. Others have been deported several times to Libya by the Libyan or the Italian authorities, while they were attempting to reach Italy by sea. Some even saw their asylum request registered by the UNHCR as they were detained in the camp of Misurata.

Most of them don’t have any identity document : these were withdrawn by the companies for which they were working, a common practice in Libya.

Tired from the long detention periods they were submitted to in often infra-human conditions, terrified at the idea of staying in Libya or of being transferred in Egytp where they fear their request for international protection might not be taken into account, they ask the European institutions to hear their voice.

On March 8, 58 Eritrean refugees from the refugee community based in Tripoli (about 2,000 people) could reach the Italian soil through an evacuation operation coordinated by the Italian embassy in Tripoli, the Italien Council for Refugees, and the Catholic authorities based in the Libyan capital city.

Migreurop network is joining the Italian organisations [1] in their request for the other Eritrean refugees in Tripoli to be evacuated as well. It also ask for the refugees blocked in other cities, especially the 250 refugees who call for help in Benghazi, to be urgently transferred in an EU member state where their asylum request could be examined.

The situation of refugees in Libya is, to a large extent, the direct result of the agreements concluded between this country, a country notoriously known for mistreating foreigners and refugees, and the European Union as well as some member states, including Italy.

Without the slightest reaction from the highest bodies of the EU, Italy concluded many migration-related bilateral agreements with Libya, and carried out many deportation operations in breach of international law both in 2009 and 2010. [2]

For many months now, the European Commission itself has been negotiating with Libya towards an active cooperation of Mouammar Gaddafi’s regime in the externalisation of migration controls. That a heavy price of these negotations would be paid by the migrant and refugee community was obvious to everyone. The European Union and the member states, who acted as sorcerer’s apprentices when flattering a dictatorial regime which they’re now rejecting, have to bear their responsibilities by taking care of the refugees who are in danger in Libya.


[2] A complaint was filed against Italy following the deportation of Eritreans and Somalis to Libya in May 2009