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How Germany is helping refugees and migrants in Libya Libya

Foreign Minister Gabriel with refugees detained in Libya, June 2017

Foreign Minister Gabriel with refugees detained in Libya, June 2017, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

07.12.2017 - Article

Opposing slavery, trafficking in human beings and illegal imprisonment: Germany and the EU have adopted a comprehensive strategy to end the suffering of the people in Libya.

Germany has earmarked 120 million euros to help migrants and refugees stranded in Libya. “Refugees in the country are still in desperate straits,” Foreign Minister Gabriel stated. Reports on the slave trade and the inhumane detention of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees in Libya have shocked the world these past weeks. Germany and its European partners are working together flat out to end the suffering of people stranded in Libya. 

1. Humanitarian aid

UNHCR worker with refugees in Libya
UNHCR worker with refugees in Libya© UNHCR

Germany and the EU are making funds available so that aid organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) can provide on-site assistance to people in Libya. For example, rescue services funded by Germany and the EU are scanning desert routes for refugees and migrants who have been left behind. Mobile healthcare services are being established, with support from the German Government, to care for the refugees, above all pregnant women and children. They are also to provide psychosocial counselling for victims of sexual violence and human trafficking. 

Thanks to German and EU support, aid organisations can also assist refugees and migrants in state-controlled detention camps. By providing healthcare and aid supplies they hope to improve conditions in the camps step by step. The aid organisations do not however have access to camps run by militias and human traffickers. Germany has therefore strongly urged the Libyan Government of National Accord to see that the authorities ensure refugees and migrants are treated humanely throughout the country. 

2. Support for voluntary repatriation

International Organization for Migration staff in Libya
International Organization for Migration staff in Libya  © IOM / Lucas Chandellier

Many of the migrants want to return home because of the dreadful living conditions in Libya. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is therefore organising voluntary repatriations with German financial assistance. This year, 13,000 people have already made use of this service, which will now be considerably expanded. 

Courses are also being provided for returnees to help them find employment back in their home countries. Moreover, at the EU-AU Summit in Abidjan, African states announced that they would significantly accelerate repatriations by providing identity papers quickly and making more flights available.

Some of the people stranded in Libya left their countries of origin because of persecution. UNHCR is trying to organise admission to third countries for them, with Germany’s support. If refugees can no longer remain in Libya because of a clear and present danger to life or limb, UNHCR will organise emergency evacuations and fly them out to neighbouring countries, where they await resettlement.

3. Efforts to end instability in Libya

Foreign Minister Gabriel in Libya, June 2017
Foreign Minister Gabriel in Libya, June 2017  © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

Years of armed conflict and bitter power struggles between numerous groups have wrecked state structures in Libya. More than 200,000 Libyans have been displaced within their own country. Many regions are not controlled by the state, but by armed militias. Stopping human traffickers and smugglers is thus very difficult. For this reason, Germany is working with the EU to bring greater stability to Libya. Germany supports a political unification process and is furthermore funding aid organisations which are active in the field of reconstruction and which ensure that the basic needs of the population are met. 

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