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Libya: Migrants Situation Update
Apr 22, 2011 (110422)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"So far, only about 2,800 out of a total of 500,000 people
fleeing the violence in Libya have arrived in Europe. This is
less than 0.6 percent of all cross-border movements. ... The
movement out of Libya is unrelated to the arrivals of some
20,000 mainly Tunisians on Lampedusa, which is part of the
'normal' boat migration by mainly North African young men in
search of work." - Hein de Haas
The Libyan crisis has served as a new occasion for antiimmigrant
demagoguery in Europe (witness the recent FrenchItalian
dispute over a train with Tunisian migrants trying to
cross the border to France). But, notes migration specialist
Hein de Haas in his blog, few migrants desperate to flee Libya
are in fact not going to Europe but seeking to return to
their home countries.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin has this short posting from
http://heindehaas.blogspot.com, plus two recent updates from
the International Organization for Migration
(http://www.iom.int), which is the international agency trying
to cope with helping migrants trying to escape the conflict in
Libya. Although the IOM has recently been able to evacuate
several thousand migrants from Misurata, and there is a
regular flow across Libya's land borders, the agency lacks
sufficient funds to pay for the ongoing reception of new
As a reminder that the fundamental issues facing migrants in
Europe and elsewhere are structural rather than primarily
linked to crises such as the conflict in Libya, this Bulletin
also includes the statement from September, 2010 of the Global
Migration Group, focused on the human rights of migrants in
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin released today, available on the
web at http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/migr1104b.php but not
sent out by e-mail, contains excerpts from the 2009 Human
Development Report on Human Mobility and Development. That
report, which has received far less attention than it
deserves, focuses on fundamental issues of development and
migrants' rights, proposing approaches that contrast strongly
with the anti-immigrant hysteria which is on the rise in many
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Libya, visit
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on migration issues, visit
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Europe's tiny refugee burden: Putting the Libyan migration
crisis into perspective
Anybody believing that the Libyan crisis would create a
"biblical exodus" towards Europe or the fear-mongering by
Frontex and European politicians that up to 1.5 million
migrants may soon arrive on European shores, should take a
look at the chart below. [available at http://tinyurl.com/4xtqoqt]
And please have a look at this website -
It is a beautiful collection of pictures showing the human
face of the Libyan crisis and the faces of the many poor
people who kept the wheels of the Libyan economy turning over
the past years - Most want to go home. How dare European
politicians insinuate that these people will massively
Just some basic facts:
- So far, only about 2,800 out of a total of 500,000 people
fleeing the violence in Libya have arrived in Europe. This is
less than 0.6 percent of all cross-border movements.
- Egypt and Tunisia bear the real refugee burden â if that
term is appropriate in the first place: about 88 percent of
all people fleeing Libya arrive on their land borders.
- The overwhelming majority are migrant workers from Egypt,
Tunisia, sub-Saharan Africa, Bangladesh and elsewhere who want
to go home - shattering the myth that the millions of
foreigners in Libya would all be "transit migrants" on their
way to Europe.
- The movement out of Libya is unrelated to the arrivals of
some 20,000 mainly Tunisians on Lampedusa, which is part of
the "normal" boat migration by mainly North African young men
in search of work.
- A combination of favourable weather, decreased police
controls and high unemployment among young Tunisian men as a
consequence of the decrease in tourist arrivals partly explain
the new departures from the Tunisian coast. See also this
article in the Tunisian newspaper Le Temps
- This illegal boat migration has existed since the EU
countries introduced visas for North Africans in the early
1990s, which interrupted seasonal and circular migration flows
of Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian workers. This forced them
to migrate illegally and pushed them into permanent
settlement. A clear example of how immigration restrictions
can have counter-productive effects.
- This cross-Mediterranean migration happens every year,
particularly in springtime. Total numbers amount to several
tens of thousands per year, or about 2 percent of the annual
of 1.5 - 1.8 million non-Europeans migrating to EU countries.
- [However, migration] routes continuously change in response
to shifts in border controls in a kind of cat and mouse game.
A drop in one place generally leads to an increase at other
crossing points, and the other way around.
In sum: there is no indication that there is a major increase
in migration from Africa to Europe in response to the popular
uprisings in North Africa and the Libyan crisis, let alone
that Europe would be invaded by hordes of desperate African
This was a myth from the start, and the evidence only proves
this. It is only sad to see the media and politicians
perpetuate this "myth of invasion".
IOM Response to the Libyan Crisis
External Situation Report | 19th April 2011
International Organization for Migration
[Text only. For pdfs of this and other reports, including maps
and additional tables, visit http://www.migration-crisis.com/libya.
- As of 18 April, 550,680 migrants have fled violence in
Libya. This figure includes 244,714 Third Country Nationals
(TCNs). Migrants fleeing Libya entered Tunisia, Egypt, Niger,
Algeria, Chad, and Sudan. Some of them put their lives in
great danger to reach the shores of Italy and Malta.
- IOM and its partners have assisted 114,841 persons to return
to their home country as of 18 April.
- On 18 April, 5,390 people crossed the Libyan borders with
Tunisia and Egypt.
- As of 18 April, the total caseload in need of evacuation at
the Libyan borders is estimated at 6,164 persons.
- Thanks to recently confirmed donor support, IOM was able to
rescue more than 2,000 people from Misrata. (Please see
attached press briefing note - below)
- Despite receiving funding for evacuations from Misrata, IOM
has run out of funds to carry out its operations elsewhere in
Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Chad, and Niger, and continues to
urgently seek further support to safely return migrants home.
Around 3,003 people crossed the border on 18 April until
23:59. This brings the cumulative total arrivals in Tunisia to
As of 18 April, direct transportation assistance from Tunisia
was provided to 88,195 persons by boat, charters and
commercial flights since the beginning of the crisis,
including to nationals from Egypt, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ghana,
Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal and the Philippines.
On 18 April, IOM assisted the return of 179 Chadians and
another 179 Malians. As of 18 April the caseload of migrants
in need of evacuation assistance is 4,200 people.
Daily Figures â 18 April 2011
IOM assisted returns: 358
Total Arrivals: 257,448
Total assisted returns: 88,195
On 18 April, 2,387 persons crossed the Egyptian border. This
brings the cumulative total of arrivals to 219,880 people.
As of April 18, the current caseload is now 1,796. The mass
evacuations have successfully decreased the total number of
migrants in need of transportation assistance.
Since 26 February, IOM has evacuated 25,232 migrants stranded
in Egypt. On 18 April, IOM assisted the return of 12 people.
The IOM medical unit in Salloum is effectively the only
international agency providing health care in partnership with
the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
Daily Figures â 18 April 2011
IOM assisted returns: 12
Total Arrivals: 219,880
Total assisted returns: 25,232
Total cumulative arrivals in Dirkou amount to 47,479 people,
with 1,879 persons arriving on 17 April. From the beginning of
the Libyan Crisis, IOM has aided 1,091 TCNs to return to their
country of origin. On 17 April, IOM assisted the return of 47
168 people received NFIs, food and water on 17 April and
another 66 people received medical assistance on 15 April.
Daily Figures â 17 April 2011
IOM assisted returns: 47
Total Arrivals: 47,479
Total assisted returns: 1,091
As of 15 April 3 charter flights flights carrying 171
vulnerable persons have been organized from Faya to N'Djamena.
As IOM Rescue Operation for Migrants Stranded in Misrata
Continue, Many Thousands More Migrants Need Urgent Help
International Organization for Migration
Libya - A third IOM-chartered boat bringing more humanitarian
aid into the besieged city of Misrata is due to arrive in the
port later today with the aim of rescuing more stranded
The boat, the Ionian Spirit, left Benghazi on Tuesday night
carrying 500 tons of food, medical supplies, hygiene kits and
non-food items donated mainly by the Libyan private sector
with some aid provided by Qatar and the U.A.E. Red Crescent.
A Libyan non-governmental organization Libaid has donated the
hygiene kits, medical supplies, hospital wheelchairs and four
generators for hospital use.
Also on board are a team of 13 doctors with differing
specializations. Two of the doctors who will relieve
colleagues working in the hospital in Misrata will also refer
critical but stable cases to IOM for evacuation to Benghazi.
"The presence of a large group of doctors with different
specializations means greater capacity and more flexibility to
assist those critically wounded or sick on board for the
return journey to Benghazi," said IOM operational leader
Jeremy Haslam as the boat departed.
However, the main focus of this third IOM operation to rescue
stranded migrants in Misrata is to bring as many migrants as
possible to safety.
In particular, the Organization is hoping to target a large
number of migrants from Niger. Of the estimated 5,000 migrants
around the port area, more than 3,200 are believed to be
"We don't know whether we will be able to reach them, however.
If they are not close to the port, then it will be extremely
hard to access them given the security conditions in the
city," Haslam added.
In two previous missions funded by the European Commission's
Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO), IOM has
rescued more than 2,100 people from Misrata, nearly 100 of
New funding of one million Euros from the German government
and BP 1.5 million (US$2.4m) from Britain's Department for
International Development (DFID) will allow IOM to continue
its rescue operations from Misrata where about 5,000 migrants
are still believed to be stranded, to the eastern port city of
However, a critical shortage of funds means that while the
migrants are brought to relative safety in Benghazi, they will
remain stranded there without additional means.
"Taking the migrants out of the line of fire is life-saving,
but by not being able to take them out of Libya and safely
home means their plight has simply been transplanted to
another location," says IOM Director of Operations and
Emergencies, Mohammed Abdiker.
"This is true for all the migrants who we need to help inside
Libya and for those who have managed to cross Libya's borders
with its neighbours."
More than 5,000 migrants on the Egyptian, Tunisian and
Nigerien borders with Libya are still in need of evacuation to
their home countries.
Among the many identified groups of migrants needing urgent
evacuation from inside Libya are a group of nearly 30,000
Chadians, including women and children, marooned in Gatroun.
IOM is in discussions with the Libyan and Chadian authorities
on accessing the group.
It comes as the number of Chadians crossing into Chad from
Libya has dramatically increased with a growing number of the
migrants stranded in northern towns such as Faya and Kaliyit.
The migrants are all dehydrated, extremely tired and in need
An IOM transit centre at Faya, where UNHCR has provided tents
to accommodate arrivals, which has a capacity of 750 people is
"An airlift to Ndjamena is the only option. But again this is
a costly operation," Abdiker states. "We are in a position
where we have beefed up our operational presence at the
Chadian border points to cope with the number of arrivals but
we have no money to evacuate the migrants from these isolated
desert areas to the Chadian capital."
Working with various Embassies, an IOM operation begun some
weeks ago to evacuate stranded migrants in Tripoli by bus to
the Tunisian border will be difficult to continue.
Only yesterday, 19 April, IOM evacuated a group of 100
Beninois migrants from the Libyan capital, including women and
IOM appealed for about US$160 million dollars for its response
to the Libyan crisis with much of the funding to provide
evacuation assistance from both inside and outside Libya. The
Organization has received to date US$65 million, all of it
except the new funding spent on operations that have helped
return more than 115,000 migrants return to their home
countries and evacuate many thousands from inside Libya to
Egypt and Tunisia.
For further information, please contact:
Jean Philippe Chauzy, IOM Geneva
Tel: +41 22 717 9361; +41 79 285 4366
Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva
Tel: +41 22 717 9486; +41 79 217 3374
Jumbe Omari Jumbe
Tel: +41 22 717 9405; +41 79 812 7734
Statement of the Global Migration Group on the Human Rights of
Migrants in Irregular Situation
Global Migration Group
[The Global Migration Group (GMG) is an inter-agency group
bringing together 14 agencies (12 United Nations agencies,
the World Bank, and the International Organization for
Migration) to promote the application of relevant
international instruments and norms relating to migration, and
to encourage the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and
better coordinated approaches to the issue of international
Principals of the Global Migration Group, assembled in Geneva
on 30 September 2010, have adopted the following statement:
The Global Migration Group (GMG) is deeply concerned about the
human rights of international migrants in an irregular
situation around the globe. Although the number of migrants
without proper legal status in transit or host countries is
unknown, they are estimated to be in the tens of millions
Migrants in an irregular situation are more likely to face
discrimination, exclusion, exploitation and abuse at all
stages of the migration process. They often face prolonged
detention or ill- treatment, and in some cases enslavement,
rape or even murder. They are more likely to be targeted by
xenophobes and racists, victimized by unscrupulous employers
and sexual predators, and can easily fall prey to criminal
traffickers and smugglers. Rendered vulnerable by their
irregular status, these men, women and children are often
afraid or unable to seek protection and relief from the
authorities of countries of origin, transit or destination.
Children, especially those unaccompanied and separated, are
particularly at risk. Furthermore, children can be banned
from classrooms or denied their fundamental rights, even as
their parents work and contribute to the economies of host
countries and thus contribute to raising the standards of
living and human development for those societies. Migrants in
an irregular situation are often denied even the most basic
labor protections, due process guarantees, personal security,
and healthcare. Female migrants in these situations face
greater risk of sexual exploitation, gender based violence,
HIV transmission, multiple discriminations and specific
challenges in access to employment, and health services,
including reproductive healthcare. People who leave their own
countries because their lives and liberty are at risk are
often obliged to move in an irregular manner and find it
increasingly difficult to seek and obtain refugee status.
Too often, States have addressed irregular migration solely
through the lens of sovereignty, border security or law
enforcement, sometimes driven by hostile domestic
constituencies. Although States have legitimate interests in
securing their borders and exercising immigration controls,
such concerns cannot, and indeed, as a matter of international
law do not, trump the obligations of the State to respect the
internationally guaranteed rights of all persons, to protect
those rights against abuses, and to fulfill the rights
necessary for them to enjoy a life of dignity and security.
The fundamental rights of all persons, regardless of their
migration status, include:
* The right to life, liberty and security of the person and to
be free from arbitrary arrest or detention, and the right to
seek and enjoy asylum from persecution;
* The right to be free from discrimination based on race, sex,
language, religion, national or social origin, or other
* The right to be protected from abuse and exploitation, to be
free from slavery, and from involuntary servitude, and to be
free from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment;
* The right to a fair trial and to legal redress;
* The right to protection of economic, social and cultural
rights, including the right to health, an adequate standard
of living, social security, adequate housing, education, and
just and favorable conditions of work; and
* Other human rights as guaranteed by the international human
rights instruments1 to which the State is party and by
customary international law.
Protecting these rights is not only a legal obligation; it is
also a matter of public interest and intrinsically linked to
The GMG calls upon States to review the situation of migrants
in an irregular situation within their territories and to
work towards ensuring that their laws and regulations conform
with and promote the realization of the applicable
international human rights standards  and guarantees at all
stages of the migration process. The GMG recognizes the
difficulties many States face and stands ready to continue to
support them in their efforts to ensure the effective
implementation of appropriate legislation, including through
The GMG further calls on States, civil society, the private
sector, the media and host communities to address the demand
side of trafficking and exploitation, to work actively to
combat xenophobia, racism and incitement to discrimination in
national politics and in public discourse, to protect all
migrants, as well as to actively promote tolerant societies in
which every person can enjoy his or her human rights,
regardless of migration status.
The GMG continues to work with States, civil society and the
social partners to address the obstacles faced by all
international migrants, including those in irregular
situations, to enjoy effectively their human rights. Further,
the GMG will continue to support efforts to address the root
causes of irregular migration by, among other things,
promoting social and economic development to reduce migration
pressures and the expansion of channels for regular migration.
In addition, the GMG will continue to support prevention,
cooperation and protection measures in respect of trafficking
and smuggling of human beings.
The irregular situation which international migrants may find
themselves in should not deprive them either of their
humanity or of their rights. As the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights states: "all human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights."
 Including the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members
of Their Families, the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the
ILO conventions on labour migration, the Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees, and others.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues,
with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
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