Published: June 12, 2019
Pushed back to a cycle of violence
Since the end of April, vulnerable people have tried to flee Libya in increasing numbers, with over 3,800 boarding unsafe boats to attempt the crossing. While UNHCR and other organisations such as MSF have called for the humanitarian evacuation of refugees and migrants out of Libya since the start of the conflict in Tripoli, the reality is for every person evacuated or resettled this year more than twice as many have been forcibly returned to Libya by the Libyan Coastguard.
European leaders support these returns knowing exactly the cycle of exploitation, torture, sexual violence and arbitrary detention that these people are exposed to in Libya.
“The lack of humanitarian vessels in the Central Mediterranean during this period should put to rest the unfounded allegation of a ‘pull factor’,” said Frédéric Penard, SOS MEDITERRANEE's Director of Operations. “The reality is, even with fewer and fewer humanitarian vessels at sea, people with little alternatives will continue to undertake this deadly sea crossing regardless of the risks. The only difference now is people are nearly four times more likely to die compared to last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).”
One year since the first stand-off at sea MSF and SOS MEDITERRANEE continue to call on all EU member states to: