First Published: 2017-12-14

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months
EU, African leaders have agreed to accelerate returns of people from Libya since video emerged of slave markets.
Middle East Online

EU officials meet people at migrants' shelter near Tripoli, Libya.

BRUSSELS - Around 15,000 African migrants will be repatriated from Libya in the next two months under an emergency plan to stop abuses there, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Thursday.

European and African leaders announced the plan for accelerated "voluntary" deportations at a summit in Abidjan two weeks ago but did not set a timetable for repatriating those left in Libyan government detention centres.

Mogherini, ahead of an EU summit, said the repatriations should be done by February.

"In only two months we hope and we expect to manage to assist the voluntary return of 15,000 people," she told reporters in Brussels.

The European Union and the African Union are working with the UN International Organisation for Migration, and the Libyan authorities to arrange for the returns to their home countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the last year, 16,000 people have returned home, but EU and AU leaders agreed in Abidjan to accelerate returns following CNN television footage of a slave market in Libya, where smugglers and criminal networks act with impunity.

It provoked an international furore on top of reports of rape, torture and beatings of migrants in Libya, including in detention camps under the control of the UN-backed government of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The EU faced accusations from rights groups that it created conditions for such abuses via its cooperation with Sarraj to detain migrants using Libya as a jumping board to Italy, the main entry point to Europe.

EU, UN and AU officials all admit it wil be a major challenge to repatriate or protect the 700,000 migrants in Libya, most of whom are in areas outside government control.

Amira El Fadil, the AU's commissioner for social affairs, told the press conference the key was finding a political solution to the chaos and violence in Libya.

Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister, said 2,000 migrants have been returned to their homes since the Abidjan summit.

The EU's top diplomat also announced another 100 million euros for the multi-billion euro Africa trust fund, with the money to finance flights from Libya and to help the migrants resettle.

Mogherini said she would also ask EU member states at a summit dinner to contribute more to the trust fund.

Four eastern EU countries which have triggered criticism for refusing to admit refugees -- Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Poland -- announced 35 million euros for the trust fund to bolster the EU's external borders and Libya's frontiers.

 

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Cinema makes return to Saudi Arabia

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister

Putin 'ready' for Trump summit

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen