Refugee and migrant flows through Libya on the rise – report

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Series Details 03.07.17
Publication Date 03/07/2017
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The objectives of the study were to assess the evolution of mixed migration trends and routes to and within Libya, and to map out refugees and migrants concentrations in southern Libya, and determine their vulnerabilities and protection needs. The findings of the report were based on qualitative data collected between October and December 2016 in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Italy, Niger, Chad and Italy.

The study found that around half of those travelling to Libya do so believing they can find jobs there, but end up fleeing onwards to Europe to escape life-threatening dangers and difficult economic conditions plus widespread exploitation and abuse. Up to July 2017, at least 2,030 people died or went missing on the voyage, with the greatest number of fatalities occurring along the so-called Central Mediterranean Route.

To mitigate the growing risks for refugees and migrants passing to and through Libya, recommendations in the report for UNHCR and other organizations include providing direct relief in the form of mobile joint interventions in key hubs in the South — such as Bani Walid, Rebyana, Tazerbu, and Kufra.

Other recommendations include accompanying border monitoring and rescue operations to provide support to refugees and migrants stranded in the desert.


Libya has for decades drawn people from neighbouring countries, as it offered the best employment opportunities and highest salaries in the region – although it has been increasingly roiled by instability and insecurity since the ouster of Muammur Gaddafi in 2011.

The foreign nationals going to Libya are part of mixed migration flows, meaning that people with different backgrounds and motivations travel together along the same routes. They include refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, unaccompanied minors, environmental migrants, victims of trafficking and stranded migrants.

The report was published just as Italy had presented a request to the European Commission for help and express its inability to cope alone with the on-going migration crisis.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) published in July 2017 a study it had commissioned with Impact Initiatives from Altai Consultants called Mixed Migration Trends in Libya: Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges.

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Related Links
ESO: Information Guide: European Migration Challenges
Deutsche Welle, 03.07.17: Italy warns of social upheaval as UN sees more migrant arrivals from Libya
ESO: Background information: Don’t close borders, manage them: how to improve EU policy on migration through Libya [ECFR: Policy Memo, June 2017]
Altai Consulting: Mixed Migration Trends in Libya: Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges, 2017
EurActiv, 14.07.17: Italy proposes Libya pact to curb illegal migration
EUObserver, 17.07.17: Austria readies for migrant border surge

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