By Faraj Aljarih
The escalating number of irregular migrants entering Libya has sparked concerns among several nations. With land boundaries spanning approximately 4,348 kilometers and sea borders extending over 1,700 kilometers, Libya has emerged as a preferred transit point for migrants seeking to reach Europe.
In recent months, migration activity to Europe through Libya has surged. A boat carrying around 80 irregular migrants sank off the coast of Castelverde, east of Tripoli, with only five surviving. The remaining individuals are either deceased or missing at sea. This incident highlights the perils of irregular migration and the pressing need for action to prevent further loss of life.
Last Saturday, 36 bodies were discovered washed up on the shore of Sabratha after their boat sank. The Libyan Red Crescent recovered the bodies over a period of three days, with the fate of others still unknown. This is another tragic incident that underscores the risks that migrants face when attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 15,000 Bangladeshi migrants arrived in Italy from Libya in 2022, double the number from the previous year. This has prompted Italy to take action to curb irregular migration. The Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, stated that Italy is working from inside Libya and Tunisia to reduce the number of migrants leaving, emphasizing that “Italy cannot become a waiting hall for those who want to go elsewhere.”
The latest statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Libya (UNHCR) show that over 4,261 irregular migrants are currently detained in Libya since the beginning of 2023. The detention centers in Libya include the Abu Salim detention center in Tripoli, which has been the site of several protests and riots due to poor conditions, and the Zintan detention center in the western part of the country. The conditions in these centers have been a source of concern for human rights organizations, with reports of overcrowding, poor sanitation, and abuse. This underscores the necessity for a well-coordinated international endeavor to tackle the underlying reasons for migration and establish secure and lawful channels for individuals seeking to improve their lives.