Summary of Europe’s Libya Problem

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Though no longer front-page news, the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe continues unabated. Libya, a transit hub for African migrants, remains crucial to solving Europe’s refugee crisis. Yet, as foreign policy scholars Sabina Henneberg and Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski point out, an effective migrant policy requires a unified government in Libya – which that nation currently lacks. getAbstract recommends this article to those interested in learning how the international community can connect efforts to reunify Libya with policies to ameliorate the migrants’ plight.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why Libya struggles to implement an effective policy for transiting migrants and
  • What the international community can do to improve the situation of migrants in Libya.
 

About the Authors

Sabina Henneberg is a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski is a former US diplomat currently teaching at Pomona College.

 

Summary

Libya has long served as a transit country for African migrants en route to Europe. In the first half of 2017, almost 80,000 migrants landed on the coast of Italy, and more than 2,000 died crossing the Mediterranean in the same period. The European Union (EU)’s plans for dealing with the constant refugee stream include preventing refugee boats from crossing the central Mediterranean, shoring up Libya’s coastal patrol capacities, helping to fund refugee camps in Libya and supporting voluntary repatriation programs. But these policies include no measures to protect the human rights of refugees, who often live in inhumane conditions and suffer abuse and exploitation in Libya. At the moment, Libya does not have a legitimate central government able to implement an effective migrant policy. Three separate governing bodies control the country, and though the international community is trying to facilitate reconciliation and unification of these factions, progress is slow. In the meantime, the international community can help Libya improve the situation of migrants on three different levels:


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