Friday, March 4, 2011

Europe's Priorities In Libya

Xenophobic reactions against sub saharan Africans occurred in 2000 in Tripoli and Zawiya and was the turning point in Ghadaffi's opportunistic and utopian experiment as wikipedia explains:
"from then onwards, Libya, being the country with the majority of immigrants among the local countries (about 1 million and a half immigrants among 5 millions and a half inhabitants, mainly distributed on the coastal area), aims at restraining and repressing irregular migrants. Libya and its policy have been supported (despite the continuous human rights violations) by the agreements on the control on irregular migrations signed together with the European countries (especially Italy)."
So when we talk about sub-saharan migrant workers to Libya we are talking about at least 20 to 25 percent of the population.
Migrant Information Source explains why so many sub-saharan migrant workers live in Libya (over 1,5 million, Tunesia has only several ten thousands):
"The air and arms embargo imposed on Libya by the UN Security Council between 1992 and 2000 played an unintended but decisive role in an unprecedented increase in trans-Saharan migration and the consolidation of migration routes and networks. Disappointed by the perceived lack of support from fellow Arab countries during the embargo, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi embarked upon a radical reorientation of Libyan foreign policy, in which he positioned himself as an African leader."
Last week I wrote: refugees trapped in Ghadaffi's Libya and today we read on the blog Modern ghana a cry for help. And I claimed:
"Europe has a heavy responsibility for the well being of refugees in Libya."
(By the way, it would probably have been better to use the term migrant workers.)
Katerina Nikolas develops this point in her article "Italy fears immigration from Africa"
"The European Union has been happy to overlook human rights issues in Libya in favor of arms sales, oil and gas imports, business contracts, and Libya's cooperation in helping to control immigration into Europe"

The 2008 study "inconvenient realities" by Hein de Haas, Senior Research Officer at the International Migration Institute (IMI), explains how:
"In 2004, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Libyan leader Al‐Qadhafi made a pact to stop irregular migration to Italy, with Libya allegedly agreeing to deport unauthorized sub‐Saharan migrants over Libyan territory to their origin countries and to seal off its southern frontiers. In October 2004, only a few days later, Libya accepted for the first time to readmit illegal migrants from Italy. Two months after the Libyan‐Italian agreement, the EU agreed to lift its 18‐year arms embargo on Libya, which allowed Libya to import (semi) military equipment officially destined for improving border controls. Italy financed training programmes for Libyan police officers and the construction of three detention camps for undocumented immigrants in Libya. Libya has also been collaborating closely with Italy in concerted expulsions of thousands of undocumented migrants from Italy via Libya to their alleged origin countries."

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles wrote yesterday:
"The European Union must not play a cynical, political game in protecting its borders rather than people"

The blog Badgals radio also wrote a valuable piece about these worrying developments.

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