Refugee and migrant flows from Libya to Europe on the rise: UNHCR

A new study by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) revealed that movements by sea from Libya to Europe, despite being the most dangerous route for reaching the continent, have increased.

The study also indicates that there are indications that it will likely continue to do so.

The study, titled Mixed Migration Trends in Libya: Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges, was published in July 2017. The study was commissioned by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The findings of the study are primarily based on qualitative data, including interviews with refugees and migrants, collected in Libya, Algeria, Chad, Italy, Niger and Tunisia, between October and December 2016.

Key highlights of the study

Around half of those travelling to Europe moved by sea as they believed that they could find jobs there. However, they ended up fleeing onwards to Europe to escape life-threatening insecurity, instability, difficult economic conditions and widespread exploitation and abuse.

The study found that almost 80 per cent of the refugees and migrants in Libya were young men, aged 22 on average and travelling alone.

Of particular concern was the rise in number of unaccompanied and separated children travelling alone, now representing some 14 per cent of all arrivals in Europe via the Central Mediterranean route, as well as women, particularly those from West and Central Africa, who could be victims of trafficking.

Refugees and migrants in Libya also tended to have a low level of education, with 49 per cent having little or no formal education. Only 16 per cent have received vocational training or higher education.

While economic reasons were the major factor motivating people to travel, many people were also trying to flee violence, conflict or political persecution in their countries of origin.

In addition from people from within the African continent, the refugees and migrants in Libya also included individuals from as far as Syria, Iraq and Bangladesh.

In addition, instability and the collapse of the justice system and reigning impunity in Libya have contributed to an environment where human smuggling and criminal networks flourish.

Efforts of UNHCR

In order to provide humanitarian assistance to people arriving as well as to the Libyans affected by the ongoing conflict, the United Nations refugee agency is scaling up its response and recently issued an appeal for USD 75.5 million to strengthen protection monitoring and interventions.

The agency is also advocating on issues related to respect for human rights, access to basic services, asylum procedures and freedom of movement.

The UN agency is also stepping up efforts in Libya and the neighbouring countries to provide credible alternatives, find durable solutions and establish legal pathways for refugees and asylum seekers, as an alternative to dangerous trips to the country or over the Central Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

About United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a United Nations programme mandated to protect and support refugees.

Its headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland.

UNHCR is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

It won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981.

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