I am deeply troubled by the abuses perpetrated against refugees and migrants in Libya, as reported by a number of NGOs and other sources. My EU colleagues and I have raised these concerns on a number of occasions at the Foreign Affairs Council, as did the Taoiseach at the European Council in October 2017. I will continue to raise these concerns when appropriate. I reiterate my call on the Libyan Government, and all parties, including those with de facto control of territory, to take steps to eliminate ill-treatment of migrants, and to facilitate access to detention centres by UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations.
The EU has increased its cooperation with UN agencies and the African Union to accelerate voluntary returns by migrants in Libya to their countries of origin, and to establish safe and legal pathways for resettlement of those in need of international protection. As a result of the EU-AU-UN cooperation which began in November 2017, the number of migrants in official Libyan detention centres fell from an estimated 20,000 people in October 2017 to 4,000 people in March 2018. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with the support of the EU and its Member States, is continuing to assist migrants inside Libyan detention centres, while increasing efforts to reach stranded migrants outside of detention. The EU is also actively supporting alternatives to the detention of migrants in Libya. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently opened a transit and departure facility in Tripoli to facilitate the transfer of vulnerable refugees to third countries.
At the European Council in October 2017, the Taoiseach announced a doubling of Ireland’s support to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), to help address the root causes of migration. In 2017, Ireland provided core funding to the UNHCR of €7.5 million, and to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of €9.5 million, funding which supports the work of these organisations in Libya. In 2015, Ireland earmarked €1 million in humanitarian funding specifically to support ICRC’s work in Libya, work which includes visiting detention centres to monitor the treatment of migrants.
Ultimately, bringing real improvements to the lives of Libyans and migrants will require restoration of political stability and an end to lawlessness, through the formation of a fully functioning government and a return to order throughout the country. Ireland supports both UN mediation and regional efforts in pursuit of stabilisation in Libya.