The European Union is setting a target of at least 5000 voluntary returns of migrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin by the end of the year. Depending on EU member state support the number of migrants sent safely home from Libya may increase, the European Commission signals in the report of the progress made under the Migration Partnership Framework. The document is expected to be discussed at the EU summit in Brussels (9-10 March).
People willing to return home will be given transportation and financial assistance to open business, pursue education or seek health treatment, the European Commission has revealed. The amounts will depend on the individual circumstances of the migrant such as family situation, dependent family members, and the country of origin. The EU teams up with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for the task. The money will come from the EU Trust Fund for Africa funded by the EU and individual EU member states.
EU started assisting voluntary migrant returns from Libya in 2015. Last year 2771 people have returned to their counties of origin. 744 migrants, mostly from Nigeria and Senegal, have received EU assistance to return home since January 2017.
IOM’s recent report on migratory trends in Libya suggests that 25% of the migrants have considered returning to their country of origin during their journey. 98% have thought about going back while already in Libya. The voluntary returns from Libya are part of a €100 million project launched by the EU, IOM and the governments of Germany and Italy. The initiative announced in December aims to support African countries in responding to the urgent protection needs of migrants along the Central Mediterranean migration routes and in strengthening migration governance. The work centres on Libya but covers all of the Sahel region and its neighbouring countries. The three-year project provides food, water and medical care on the major routes and reintegration support for those willing to return to their home countries. Discussions with Libyan authorities are underway to focus support on protection at disembarkation points, as well as on humanitarian support to those migrants who are in detention centres.
In 2016 The EU border and coast guard agency Frontex reported steadily increasing migratory pressure from the African continent, particularly from West Africa.The Central Mediterranean route has become dominant for migration flows to Europe. Almost 90 % of the 180 000 who have attempted taking the route in 2016 had departed from Libya. For the first three months of 2017, 16 927 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea with about 80 percent arriving in Italy and the rest in Spain and Greece. According to IOM estimates there are between 700,000 and 1 million migrants in Libya. Only 276 957 of them have been identified and located.
Third Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration
Migration Partnership Framework
EU – Libya Relations
EU Trust Fund for Africa
IOM Brief for Libya – Facts and Figures
IOM Migration Profiles and Trends Report on Libya
Arrivals at sea in 2016 – Frontex data