UN seeks to dis­suade W African mi­grants

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

GENEVA — West Africa mi­grants and asy­lum-seek­ers must be dis­suaded from go­ing to Libya, the main point of de­par­ture for Europe but where they of­ten face abuse and de­ten­tion at the hands of traf­fick­ers, the United Na­tions said on Tues­day.

The U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ap­pealed to donors for funds to pro­vide “mean­ing­ful al­ter­na­tives” for peo­ple tak­ing dan­ger­ous boat jour­neys to reach Europe.

More than 110,000 mi­grants and refugees have ar­rived by sea in south­ern Europe so far this year, in­clud­ing 92,000 in Italy, it said.

At least 2,360 have died at sea and an un­known num­ber have per­ished in the Sa­hara desert try­ing to reach Libya.

“Peo­ple should not go to Libya. We have no idea about the num­ber of peo­ple los­ing their lives in those de­ten­tion cen­ters run by traf­fick­ers,” Vin­cent Co­chetel, UNHCR Spe­cial En­voy for the Cen­tral Mediter­ranean sit­u­a­tion, told a news brief­ing.

“But when you in­ter­view the peo­ple in Italy, you just hear hor­ror sto­ries about peo­ple miss­ing.”

Italy is con­sid­er­ing is­su­ing tem­po­rary visas that would al­low mi­grants to travel around the Euro­pean Union, its deputy for­eign min­is­ter said on Tues­day, a move in­tended to pres­sure its EU neigh­bors to do more to help ease the mi­gra­tion cri­sis.

The UNHCR ex­panded its appeal to $421 mil­lion to fi­nance its strat­egy in coun­tries of ori­gin and tran­sit in sub-sa­ha­ran Africa, in North Africa and in des­ti­na­tion coun­tries in Europe.

Some 7,000 to 9,000 mi­grants and refugees are held in Libya at any time, in­clud­ing in de­ten­tion cen­ters, Co­chetel said.

“The rest of the peo­ple in Libya are of­ten kept in what are called ‘con­nec­tion houses’ or ware­houses where they are kept by the traf­fick­ers and are sub­ject of­ten to all sorts of abuse.

“We be­lieve that the sit­u­a­tion is not un­avoid­able. We be­lieve that once the peo­ple are in Libya it’s a bit too late in many re­spects,” he said.

In sub-sa­ha­ran African coun­tries in­clud­ing Niger, UNHCR aims to help asy­lum seek­ers gain ac­cess to asy­lum pro­ce­dures and to raise aware­ness of the risks of trav­el­ing to Libya, he said.

“So what we are propos­ing... is a surge of ac­tiv­i­ties that pro­vide ad­e­quate re­cep­tion, de­cent re­cep­tion con­di­tions as well as other ser­vices so peo­ple have a real al­ter­na­tives to stay in those coun­tries of tran­sit and have their case, their ap­pli­ca­tion, ex­am­ined in those coun­tries,” he said. — Reuters

Mi­grants walk af­ter they were res­cued by Libyan coast­guard at the coast of gharaboli, east of tripoli, Libya July 8, 2017.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.