TRIPOLI, 3 January 2021 – More than 5,000 migrants were deported from Libya in the course of 2020, according to data released by Libya’s interior ministry.
Tripoli said it deported 5,360 migrants in all as of 29 December 2020.
Two global agencies – the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – worked with Libyan officials as they finalized the deportations.
Rights groups have decried the abuse involved in deportations and in detentions in Libya, calling for the unconditional release of migrants held in private prisons and dungeons ran by militiamen and slave drivers in Libya.
Since 2019, the European Union (EU) has poured millions of dollars into efforts in Libya and other Maghrebien countries to help curb the flow of illegal migrants reaching Europe.
By December 2019, the EU had sent nearly 400 million euros to networks and organizations in Libya working to prevent migrants from going beyond Libya on their perilous journey to reach Europe.
In providing the funding, the EU promised that the resources will be devoted to improving detention centers where migrants are held, and to end the notorious abuses on migrants that include trafficking, sexual abuse and even slavery.
African migrants deported to their native countries from long months or years of detention, torture, sexual abuse and even slavery in Libya have told journalists that it is better for African migrants to be dead rather than to be held in detention in Libya.
An investigation by Newsweek magazine in 2019 found migrants who said it was better for them to be killed than to remain alive anywhere in Libya.
Without funding from the European Union, the networks that cause the most harm to migrants in Libya would be out of business.
Instead, they are a thriving business because EU funding indirectly rewards networks that arrest, detain and cause migrants to renounce their trip to Europe.
An investigation by the Associated Press in 2019 found that United Nations agencies had also benefited from the funds without doing anything to improve the fate of the migrants.
“The misery of migrants in Libya has spawned a thriving and highly lucrative web of businesses funded in part by the EU and enabled by the United Nations,” the 2019 investigation by the Association Press found.
The investigation uncovered evidence that huge sums of EU funds eneded up in “networks of militiamen, traffickers and coast guard members who exploit migrants”.
In some cases and citing internal emails that it had obtained, the AP said, “in some cases, U.N. officials knew militia networks were getting the money”.