11.10.2017 / 10:46 Uhr

Libyen: Flüchtlinge als Ware

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Für Foreign Policy hat Peter Tinti in Libyen recherchiert, welche Folgen die Flüchtlingspolitik der EU hat:

In Libya, these policies have empowered militias and criminal syndicates that have allied themselves with the U.N.-backed government and lined up for European largesse.

Eighteen months after the EU unveiled its controversial plan to curb illegal migration through Libya — now the primary point of departure for sub-Saharan Africans crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe — migrants have become a commodity to be captured, sold, traded, and leveraged. Regardless of their immigration status, they are hunted down by militias loyal to Libya’s U.N.-backed government, caged in overcrowded prisons, and sold on open markets that human rights advocates have likened to slave auctions. They have been tortured, raped, and killed — abuses that are sometimes broadcast online by the abusers themselves as they attempt to extract ransoms from migrants’ families.

The detention-industrial complex that has taken hold in war-torn Libya is not purely the result of a breakdown in order or the work of militias run amok in a state of anarchy. Visits to five different detention centers and interviews with dozens of Libyan militia leaders, government officials, migrants, and local NGO officials indicate that it is the consequence of hundreds of millions of dollars in pledged and anticipated support from European nations as they try to stem the flow of unwanted migrants toward their shores.

The European Union has so far pledged roughly $160 million for new detention facilities to warehouse migrants before they can be deported back to their home countries and to train and equip the Libyan coast guard so that it can intercept migrant boats at sea. Individual EU member states have earmarked tens of millions of dollars more as they consider a recent request, reportedly in the range of $900 million, by Libya’s U.N.-backed government in Tripoli for a list of equipment needed to combat migrant smuggling.

EU efforts in Libya are part of a broader plan to stem migration from Africa to Europe, which includes a multibillion-dollar EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa that aims to address the “root causes” of migration and displacement. In the so-called “source” countries that large numbers of migrants are leaving, the EU is rolling out new development projects designed to persuade would-be migrants not to leave home in the first place. But in transit countries like Libya and its neighbors to the south, Niger and Sudan, the EU has focused on forcibly preventing migrants from reaching the Mediterranean by providing money for anti-smuggling operations, border patrols, and detention facilities.

In Libya, these policies have empowered militias and criminal syndicates that have allied themselves with the U.N.-backed government and lined up for European largesse. Some have rebranded themselves as official coast guard units in the expectation that they will receive training and equipment. Others are running detention centers where migrants are systematically mistreated but where the European Union and member states still offer support — including IOM funding to provide health care, psychosocial counseling, and essential items like hygiene kits to migrants. IOM, which is the main implementing partner for EU-funded projects related to migration in Libya, has also helped renovate detention facilities and trained guards to staff them.