Amnesty wants secure path to Europe for migrants in Libya

Ahead of a meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group (CMCG) in Bern on Monday, Amnesty Switzerland has called to make it easier for migrants to be evacuated from Libya and resettled in Switzerland and other European countries.

On Thursday, the Swiss section of the international NGO criticised the CMCGexternal link for claiming to want to protect migrants detained in Libya under inhumane conditions while denying them safe passage to Europe with aid of the Libyan coast guard. Since the beginning of the year, around 14,000 migrants have been rescued at sea and detained in Libya. Amnesty called on all European CMCG members to increase refugee quotas, allow family reunions beyond the scope of a nuclear family, and offer humanitarian visas to those stranded in Libyan detention centres.

On Sunday, Swiss justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga had called for an EU rescue operation for migrants detained in Libya. She spoke of aiding the most vulnerable such as women and children, as well as creating migrant reception centres in African countries like Niger.

However, Amnesty Switzerland warned against shifting responsibility for migrants to African countries instead of creating “proper legal channels” for them to escape human rights violations in Libya. The NGO also demanded that all migrants be released from Libyan detention centres, their presence in the country decriminalised, and allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR to operate freely.

The third CMCG meeting in Bern (after Rome in March and Tunis in July) will be attended by interior ministers from Algeria, Austria, Chad, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mali, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, and Tunisia. Others invited to the meeting are the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the EU External Action Service, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR. While NGOs are not usually allowed to take part, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will participate in the meeting for the first time in Bern.

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