21 September 2017

EU wrong in blocking refugee from Libya

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Oxfam, an international group of charities, has called on the European Union to stop pursuing a policy of preventing refugees from leaving Libya by sea to reach Europe, saying that has exposed people to huge risks of abuse, torture and rape in the lawless North African country. reports that “People must come first," Roberto Barbieri, head of Oxfam Italy, said in a statement on Wednesday, adding, “The EU should provide safe routes for people to come to Europe and have access to a fair and transparent process for claiming asylum.”

The charity official made the plea after his organization reported on the interviews with refugees who made it to Italy after a perilous journey from Libya. The refugees recounted how they suffered abuse, torture and rape as they crossed Libya in pursuit of a new life in Europe.

Refugees, mostly from impoverished and war-torn African countries, take Libya as their main embarkation point for the trip to Italy. Most of them often use flimsy boats run by people smugglers.

Italian officials have recorded 90,000 arrivals from Libya this year while more than double that figure made to the Italian shores in 2016. The flow has prompted EU officials to search for mechanisms that could deter refugees from taking the route across the Mediterranean. Barbieri said, however, that people would suffer more if they are locked-up in Libya, a country where rival factions have been vying for power since the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

“These are people who are escaping war, persecution and poverty – and yet in Libya they encounter another hell,” said the Oxfam official, adding that at least eight in 10 of the 160-odd arrivals interviewed by the charity said they suffered "inhuman or degrading treatment" while in Libya.

He said that three-quarters also recounted seeing a fellow migrant tortured or killed, adding that all but one of the 31 women refugees interviewed by Oxfam said they had been subject to sexual violence.

2017.08.09 / 22:59
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