Published: June 10, 2019
Question of refugees
The state of migrants from the wars in the Middle East has brought many to tears – but there is little that the world is willing to do to help. The focus on Libya as a site for moving migrants towards Europe on dingy boats as well as a space where a new era of slave trade was starting has been known for a while. While the world aided the fall of the Gaddafi regime, there has been no aid on offer to bring peace in the country. Now reports are coming in about the state of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Migrants and refugees are trapped and detained in Tripoli in their thousands since early April. Despite the rampant violence, the Libyan Coast Guard remains interested in picking up people off the Libyan coast and delivering them to detention facilities in poor conditions in the country. Much of these efforts are supported by European funding – or rather European threats of cutting down aid support. Anyone with a bit of sense would know that Libya has much greater needs than to spend energy clamping down on those looking to migrate for better pastures.
Instead of doing the needful, Europe is delivering these migrants into the hands of traffickers. The UN has decried conditions in Libyan migrant detention centres, where dozens continue to die from tuberculosis and hundreds of others living off starvation rations. Many others have disappeared from sight and are likely to have ended up in the Libyan slave trade. The UN visited one refugee centre where around 700 migrants were being held in conditions that amount to torture. Waste and rubbish was overflowing as dozens were crowded together in small cells. Those living there were only receiving a single meal of 200 grams of pasta per day. Dozens had died of tuberculosis, while around five dozen people were put in a separate isolation chamber, whose state was worse than the rest of the camp. It is clear that the Libyan Coast Guard needs to stop the process of detention. People looking for a way out are being put in worse conditions than they set out from. The UN puts the entire burden on the Libyan Coast Guard, but more than that it needs to be critical of the hostile environment being built up in Europe around the question of refugees from the wars in Africa. Instead of drowning them in sea, it seems it is easier to let them die in detention centres in Libya in the belief that moral questions do not touch their conscience.