November 28, 2017 – The United Nations is stepping up its work to stop serious abuses perpetrated against refugees and migrants on the central Mediterranean routes, including the alleged slave trade in Libya, two heads of aid agencies said on Tuesday. the ONU.
The meeting was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in response to growing international concerns about the risks faced by migrants and refugees, illustrated by recent news reports and videos showing African immigrants in Libya supposedly sold as slaves.
"This is a huge human tragedy and we can stop it," said William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), through a video link from Geneva, stressing the need to break the model of business of the traffickers.
In those efforts, IOM has helped 13,000 people out of detention centers in Libya and 8,000 in Niger, he said, noting there are still around 15,000 in those facilities.
IOM is working with partners, including the Government of Libya, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the African Union, the European Union and countries of origin, to forge an agreement to Implement a program to empty those detention centers, Mr. Swing said.
The High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, was also informative. He told the Council: "The serious abuses perpetrated against migrants and refugees along the Central Mediterranean routes can no longer be ignored."
"Driven to flee, but without legal roads for safety, refugees are exposed to terrible damage, along with migrants, including torture, rape, badual exploitation, slavery and other forms of forced labor "Grandi said, also via video link from Geneva, and adds that these abuses proliferate where governance is weak and transnational criminal networks take root.
"This requires a comprehensive approach that covers the countries of origin, transit and destination," he stressed, highlighting the need to strengthen the protection of refugees and offer solutions along the routes.
UNHCR is intensifying its work, but faces "dramatic" financing gaps, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, he added.
UNHCR is helping the authorities to address the needs of displaced Libyans and others affected by the conflict. The mechanisms of reception and protection are being progressively reinforced. Plans for a transit center in Tripoli are progressing positively.
"Too often, the measures applied in relation to Mediterranean routes have focused on how to control, deter and exclude.This can have a dehumanizing effect and, what is more important, on its own, does not help refugees and migrants to avoid situations of exploitation and deeply harmful, "said Grandi, and called for a full set of political, security, humanitarian, human rights and development investments. .
"Your attention is welcome, because your leadership is essential to ensure that this happens," he told Board members.