LONDON: Europe has failed to note and act on the plight of thousands of migrants in Libya who are being held in “deplorable conditions” and often under arbitrary detention, an international NGO chief has said.
Federico Soda, chief of mission for the International Organization for Migration’s presence in Libya, said too little is being done to have an effect on the country’s “environment of arbitrary detention and deplorable conditions” for migrants.
“Most member states are silent on these issues in Libya,” Soda told reporters in Brussels. “On a number of issues in the country, we (the IOM) are the only voice. That’s problematic. What concerns me is kind of the acquiescence.”
He described the attitude prevalent in Europe as: “‘It’s not a problem on our shore, so let’s just keep it there’.”
Soda said the international community should dish out “more condemnation” and demand “more calls for law and order for investigations” into the situation in Libya.
A recent IOM report found that a record 32,425 people were returned to Libya after trying to travel to Europe last year.
The majority were intercepted or rescued from the often unsafe small boats they travel in across the Mediterranean Sea.
Soda said the issue is society-wide, with multiple groups guilty of allowing the crisis to continue.
“It’s not about elected people; I think the whole of the community has a responsibility here, because when societies becomes as polarized as we’ve been on migration issues, I think we all have to look in the mirror and maybe put ourselves in the shoes and the conditions of where these people are coming from,” he added.