Head of the International Organization for Migration in Libya (IOM), Federico Soda described the situation in Libya as “a vicious cycle of abuse in the country.”
“We have really made no progress in years,” he told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday, according to EU Observer News.
“Not enough is being done to change or to try and influence change,” he said, noting that the EU “cannot just stop migrant crossings and think the issue has been resolved.”
Soda also said migrant smuggling and trafficking “is quite alive and well” in Libya.
The European Commission intends to deliver more vessels to the Libyan Coast Guard, which it says are saving lives in the Mediterranean sea. It added that Libyans intercepted over 32,000 people at sea last year, but once returned, many face horrendous conditions in detention centres.
Libya’s Department for Combating Illegal Immigration (DCIM), run so-called ‘official detention centers.’ A number are being run by the Stabilisation Support Authority (SSA), which Amnesty International has described as a “state-funded militia that operates with impunity.”
“The SSA not only runs detention centers, but also intercepts refugees and migrants at sea,” says Amnesty.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) made similar assertions, noting that the SSA-run Al-Maya detention center is off-limits to humanitarian and civil organisations.
A former Libyan police lieutenant also told EU Observer last year that everyone takes a cut from the smuggling business, including the Coast Guard.
“Many of these boats are being recycled between the Libyan Coast Guard and the smugglers,” he said.
The EU fund has mobilised some €465.3m for projects in Libya. More than half has gone to protecting migrants, including voluntary returns.