The ongoing migration crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing the EU, and the Union has put in place a broad range of measures to address it. These have included the relocation of migrants from Italy and Greece across the EU; generous humanitarian assistance to countries hosting large numbers of migrants; and Operation Sophia, the naval operation to address the evil trade of people- trafficking in the Mediterranean. Those measures have had a positive impact, but more needs to be done.In the past year the migration focus has shifted from Turkey and Greece to the Central Mediterranean Route, from Libya to Italy. In March, EU Heads of State and Government set out the EU’s commitment to assist Libya in their Malta Declaration. That commitment is broad-ranging including capacity building, training, and the provision of equipment and support for the Libyan national coast guard and other agencies. It also seeks to ensure that there are adequate reception capacities in Libya for migrants, including through working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.
In April of this year the EU approved a €90 million programme to step up protection of migrants and to reinforce migration management in Libya. A key objective is to provide multi-sectoral assistance and protection to migrants, refugees and host communities in different locations inside Libya, in particular inside detention centres, at disembarkation points and in urban settings. This programme is being implemented through a number of international agencies including the UN High Commission for Refugees and UNICEF. The €90m is in addition to the €120 million already announced by the EU for migration-related support for Libya. The EU will continue to closely monitor the migration situation in Libya to see what additional support is required.
Migration was discussed at Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and is also on the agenda for the European Council later this week. At the FAC, Ireland was among those expressing deep concern at conditions of migrants in detention camps in Libya. We emphasised – as we have on many previous occasions - the importance of addressing the root causes and humanitarian aspects of the migration crisis if an enduring solution is to be found.
It must be acknowledged too, that without an effective, internationally recognised government in Libya, addressing the migrant crisis in the Central Mediterranean region will continue to be very difficult.