Partnership between the EU, local authorities and the International Organisation for Migration has led to upswing in rescues.
Troops in norther Niger, supported by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) programe funded by the EU, yesterday successfully saved a large group of migrants, including children and babies, abandoned by smugglers without food or water in the desert.
Most of the migrants were from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Burkina Faso, traveling to Libya in the hope of reaching Europe.
The EU's Partnership Framework on Migration, launched a year ago, works closely with the governments of countries along the trafficking route and with international organisations to crack down on smuggling, support migrants and host communities. The EU also invests heavily in the development of countries which migrants take great risks to leave in search of better lives.
Outlining the successes of the partnership on Monday as well as the EU's priorities for the coming months, High Representative Federica Mogherini pledged the EU would "keep working to increase even further cooperation with our African partners, to ensure that lives are saved, migrants are treated in dignity, and to make sure that we eradicate together the business model of those who exploit human despair."
In Niger, a key country along the trafficking route from Western Africa where many migrants perish while crossing the desert, the EU and its partners have focused on building the capacity of the authorities and providing equipment as well as raising awareness. This includes for example signs in the desert advertising an emergency number which have led to a significant increase in timely calls for help to which the authorities have been able to swiftly respond, saving more than 600 migrants since April 2016.
The EU also works with the IOM to support migrants wishing to return home, including offering them vocational training and support in engaging in the development of their towns. In 2016, the IOM assisted over 4,800 migrants to return to their communities of origin.
EU steps up humanitarian assistance in Libya
The European Commission has announced additional emergency assistance of €10 million to respond to increasing humanitarian needs in Libya.
The European Commission has today announced an additional €10 million in humanitarian aid for those most in need in Libya as violence and instability continue to affect vulnerable populations. This is part of the EU's broader support for Libya to address the ongoing crisis in the country, which includes funding of €220 million allocated through various support programmes, including the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
"The European Commission is stepping up support for the worrying humanitarian situation in Libya. Our new funding aims to help humanitarian organisations respond to urgent needs, especially in terms of access to emergency health services and essential medicines. We urge all parties to the conflict to ensure immediate, safe and unrestricted humanitarian access so all in need receive lifesaving assistance. We stand by all those suffering as a result of the conflict and are committed to pursuing our impartial and neutral humanitarian response to help those that need it most." saidCommissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
The new funding brings the Commission's humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people to almost €30 million since the current crisis started and will also help boost food assistance, protection, water and sanitation, and shelter. As with all the EU's humanitarian aid, funding will only be provided to humanitarian organisations.
It is currently estimated that 1.3 million people – amounting to about one fifth of the country's population – are in need of humanitarian assistance. Particularly affected are the internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants.
The humanitarian situation in Libya remains volatile and civilians are bearing the brunt of the protracted political crisis. The country's health system has practically collapsed. Most of the health infrastructure is not or is only partially functioning, there is a significant deficit in medicine and medical equipment, and human resources are lacking, in particular for intensive care units or in the nursing sector.
The ongoing conflict has had serious consequences in terms of internal and external displacement, living conditions, lack of access to essential goods and services and human right violations. Meanwhile, due to the highly volatile security context, access of humanitarian actors to population in needs remains extremely difficult and limited.
EU Trust Fund for Africa adopts €90 million programme on protection of migrants and improved migration management in Libya
Brussels, 12 April 2017
Following up on the Joint Communication on the Central Mediterranean Route and the Malta Declaration, the EU Trust Fund for Africa upon proposal from the European Commission, adopted today a €90 million programme to step up the protection of migrants and reinforce migration management in Libya.
Today, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa has adopted a comprehensive €90 million programme to reinforce protection and resilience of migrants, refugees and host communities in Libya. The programme will also support improved migration management in the country.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "For the European Union, Libya and the Libyans have been and stay a top priority. We are working to promote a political solution to the Libyan crisis and to support the Libyan authorities on the many challenges they have to face, including the managing of the migration flows. As the first donor for Libya, we already are providing a sizeable package of support worth €120 million to assist the authorities and the population. And while we are working to provide training and capacity building to the coast guard to save lives in the Mediterranean Sea, we are addressing the appalling situation the migrants stranded in Libya face, together with international organisations such as IOM and UNHCR. The additional €90 million we adopt today are aimed at protecting and assisting migrants in the country, and the people who host them. Our aim remains cooperating in protecting lives, and promoting peace and stability in Libya. The European Union is doing its part and the Libyan authorities, all of them, have to do theirs".
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said: "At the initiative of the European Commission, the EU Trust Fund for Africa is taking rapid action on a pressing priority for both the EU and our partner countries. By supporting actions in Libya, today's newly adopted programme will address the needs of the migrants and contribute to a better management of migration flows. In addition, the projects will also support improved socio-economic conditions for all in Libya, and thus contribute to reducing the drivers of irregular migration and make the smugglers' task more difficult".
The new programme addresses various aspects of the migration challenge in Libya and along the Central Mediterranean route: stepping up the protection of migrants and refugees, including the most vulnerable, in Libya; improving the conditions of host communities and of internally displaced persons, taking into account the difficult socio-economic conditions in Libya; and facilitating the voluntary return of migrants from Libya to their countries of origin. The programme activities will be implemented in the main areas of settlement or transit of migrants and refugees (Libyan Southern border, municipalities along the migratory routes and along the coastal area) and in areas of displacement of Libyans and places to which internally displaced populations are returning.
The programme includes the following activities:
- Protection (€48 million): assistance to and protection of migrants and refugees at disembarkation points, in detention centres and urban settings (e.g. primary health care, psychological first aid, identification of vulnerable persons – including children – access to food and non-food items); voluntary humanitarian returns and reintegration of migrants to their countries of origin (overall 15,000 envisaged); creation of 'Safe Spaces' as alternatives to detention (shelters providing 24/7 care and specialised services); assistance to migrants on the move in the form of information on viable options (including returns) and risks of irregular migration as well as food and non-food items; collection and analysis of data on mixed migration flows, routes and trends through a 'Displacement Tracking Mechanism' which will help better understand the migration dynamics.
- Socio-economic development at municipal level and local governance (€42 million):activities to improve socio-economic development at municipal level and local governance, through strengthening capacities of local authorities to provide services and foster local development and stability, through provision and access to quality services for Libyans and migrants (including health facilities and education and rehabilitation of local infrastructures for example) and through local economic development and access to job opportunities (including through safe income for migrants and host communities in the South where smuggling and trafficking provide major revenues).
The programme will be implemented through five partners, selected on the basis of their capacity to surge swift operational deployment building on existing operations and presence on the ground: 1) the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2) the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 3) the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 4) the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and 5) the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). Concrete implementation on the ground will start after finalisation of contracting with the partners.
Migrants transiting or remaining in Libya are facing increasingly dire conditions. The programme addresses the priorities set out by the European Commission in its Joint Communication "Migration on the Central Mediterranean Route: Managing flows, saving lives" (25 January 2017), confirmed and further developed by the Heads of State or Government in the Malta Declaration of 3 February 2017. Further actions under the EU Trust Fund for Africa will address the remaining priorities identified in both documents.
The planned activities cover:
- reducing the number of crossings and saving lives at sea;
- stepping up the fight against smugglers and traffickers;
- development of local communities in Libya to improve their socio-economic situation and enhance their resilience as host communities;
- protecting migrants, increasing resettlement and promoting assisted voluntary returns and reintegration;
- managing migrant flows through the southern Libyan border;
- increased cooperation with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.
Libyans Celebrate Reopening of Benghazi Airport after Terrorists’ Defeat
Libyans and authorities celebrated on Saturday the reopening of Benghazi Benina Airport.
The airport will now be open to commercial flights. It was closed for three years due to fighting in the city.
The official inauguration of the airport took place on Thursday only days after it was announced that terrorist groups have been defeated in the city.
On Saturday, the first commercial flight took off from the facility.
The first outward bound flights from Benina Airport were to the capital, Tripoli, to Amman, Jordan, and to the southeastern Libyan city of Kufra. Flights are also scheduled to and from Tunis, Istanbul, Alexandria and the western Libyan city of Zintan.
The flights are operated by two state-owned companies, Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways.
Benina is just east of Benghazi, Libya’s second city, where fighting escalated in the summer of 2014 when forces loyal to eastern-based commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar launched a military campaign against terrorists.
Earlier this month, Haftar declared victory in the campaign as his forces battled rivals in their last downtown holdouts.
Travelers and airport staff expressed relief at no longer having to travel to Labraq airport, a four-hour drive east of Benghazi, which had replaced Benina as the main airport for the eastern part of the country.
Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), was absent from the reopening of the airport.
Head of the Benghazi municipality Abdulrahman al-Abar attended the event, saying that the reopening of the airport would not have been possible without the sacrifices of the LNA.
He revealed that other state services, such as the Benghazi port, will be reopened as soon as the city is completely liberated from terrorism.
Despite Haftar’s announcement that the terrorists have been eliminated from the city, a few pockets of resistance remain.
Abar vowed that he will not spare an effort in rebuilding the city “to present an image that reflects the strength of its perseverance, patience of its people and support of their courageous army in its holy war against terror.”