Libya: a dead-end for migrants. An exclusive report from #Insiders.
(Euro News) — Migration has soared in Libya, a country in utter chaos since the fall of its leader Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. Hundreds of thousands of women, children and men have fled war and poverty.
Competing factions in Libya are fighting for power, although there was a glimmer of hope earlier this month, when Libyan forces recaptured ISIL-held territory.
But peace is a long way ahead, even in the capital Tripoli. Libyans of course are paying a heavy price, but they’re not the only ones. The country has long been a gateway for sub-Saharan migrants hoping to cross to Europe. But now that the country is in tatters, ruled by three competing governments, the six countries bordering Libya are no longer manned.
Caught in the country’s instability and lawlessness, sub-Saharan migrants are exposed to abuse, violence and trafficking. International aid does not always reach them and they rot in detention centers, often in sub-human conditions.
The migrants — who hail from Eritrea, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, and Congo, among other places — are illegal because Libya does not offer them the possibility of asylum. Some still dream of crossing over to Europe, but the journey is as expensive as it is dangerous. The UN says close to 5,000 migrants have lost their lives at sea so far in 2016.
Migrants’ stories of abuse
Euronews reporter Valerie Gauriat traveled to Tripoli where she caught up with migrants, recorded their stories of abuse and their cry for a way out. Here is her report.
Five years after being plunged into instability after the fall of former prime minister Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is a major a crossroads of irregular immigration and is officially home to nearly 300,000 migrants.
Many are willing to attempt the perilous, 300 kilometre journey to Europe.
The under-resourced coast guards do their best to respond, but can do little to avert tragedies.
The team that works the area off the Tripoli coast has just six of these small boats, to cover a 120 km zone.
Boats not built for the high seas, or to travel long distances.
The head of the Tripoli coastguard told Euronews that the European ships in the Mediterranean, has increased the number of crossings.
“Today, migrants, instead of having to cross 200 to 400 nautical miles, can easily have to cross a dozen miles. After passing the Libyan territorial waters, they directly find the boats from operation Sophia waiting for them, to take them to Europe’s shores.”
According to the United Nations, a record number of people have died in the Mediterranean this year: nearly 4,700.
Boats intercepted by the Libyan coast guards have been specially made to transport migrants; and the smuggling business is prosperous. Since January more than 14,000 migrants have been rescued at sea. This is over four times the number than in previous years.
The migrant smuggling business has been booming since the fall of Gaddafi.