Nigerian migrants have been advised to stay clear of Libya because of the ongoing developments in the Mediterranean basin. According to a press statement from the Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN), this is because of the “on the ongoing developments in the Mediterranean basin as they affect migrants. Policies aimed at reducing the number of migrants arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa, especially Libya, are trapping refugees in the region where they’re exposed to harsh living conditions and widespread human rights abuses. “The MEPN would like to point out the following developments which are drastically curtailing the prospects of crossing the Mediterranean by would-be migrants: – Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Unity issued a directive in August 2017, compelling NGO rescue ships to seek official permission before entering Libya’s waters to carry out rescue operations”. The MEPN in a statement signed by Kenneth Gbandi Co-Project Director (MEPN) & Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) and Femi Awoniyi, Co-Project Director (MEPN) said “this means less search-and rescue missions for capsized boats and increasing fatalities among those crossing the Mediterranean on these boats”. “Increased European cash aid to many Libyan coastal towns has enabled them to clamp down on the activities of people smugglers – Similarly, Italy’s financial support for Libya’s coast guards has enabled a more effective patrol of the nation’s coasts. – Inhabitants of coastal towns tired of seeing dead bodies of migrants, whose boats had capsized in the Mediterranean, washing up on their beaches are forming vigilante groups to curb the activities of people smugglers”. MEPN reasoned that “all these developments are pushing migrant smugglers into taking more dangerous routes with smaller, even more overcrowded boats. Although the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean between 1 January to 13 September 2017 has dramatically declined (to 128,863 from 293,806 during the same period in 2016), some experts say that the proportion of those dying at sea has risen.” The organisation explained further that “moreover, there is an ongoing internal conflict in southern Libya not to mention that the country as a whole is still contending with ISIS and other radical extremist groups, divisions between two warring governments and a crumbling economy. – International organisations estimate that between 800,000 and 1 million migrants are in Libya waiting to make the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. “In view of the foregoing, migrants leaving for Libya now would be toying with their lives. The illegal route to Europe is dangerous enough but it has now become more lethal. This year alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration, more than 2,550 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean with many more believed to have died en route. “In Libya, many migrants seeking employment or trapped in transit are exposed to hash living conditions and widespread human rights abuses. Some are traded as slaves for ransom, labour or sex by gangs of human-traffickers and many die in the appalling conditions of detention facilities run by criminals and militias. International organizations have also published credible reports, documenting regular and severe human rights violations of refugees and migrants in official Detention Centres. The MEPN would therefore like to advise would-be Nigerian migrants intending to reach Europe through irregular routes, such as Libya, to reconsider the journey. We implore them to rather seek legal travel channels”.]]>

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