Doctors without Borders on Thursday, called on the European Union (EU) to stop sending migrants to the chaotic Libya, saying “people cannot be sent back to Libya, nor should they be contained there”.
In an open letter, the humanitarian organization blamed the EU for being accomplice in the treatment reserved to migrants in the North African violence-stricken nation. It accuses the bloc for its cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard, causing misfortune for people while trying to cross.
“What migrants and refugees are living through in Libya should shock the collective conscience of Europe’s citizens and elected leaders,” Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of MSF, wrote in the letter.
“Blinded by the single minded goal of keeping people outside of Europe, European funding is helping to stop boats from departing Libyan waters, a policy that is also feeding a criminal system of abuse,” the letter stated, adding that “The detention of migrants and refugees in Libya is rotten to the core. It must be named for what it is: a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion. And European governments have chosen to contain people in this situation. People cannot be sent back to Libya, nor should they be contained there.
MSF has assisted people in Libyan detention centers in Tripoli for over a year, and has witnessed firsthand the scheme of arbitrary detention, extortion, physical abuse and deprivation of basic services that men, women and children suffer in these centers… They are simply treated as commodities to be exploited, the letter stated further.
“We are not for open borders as such. But we do recognize that immense suffering cannot continue. People should not have a choice between dying in Libya or dying at sea while risking the journey. We have said that for months, we have said it for years. That needs to change,” Jan-Peter Stellema, MSF’s Operational Advisor said.
European governments are investing tens of millions in anti-migration measures in Niger, Mali, and Chad to stop the flow of pick-up trucks that speed towards the Libyan border.
The European Union leaders have, last month in Paris, discussed using the armed forces of African regimes to detain refugees and send them back toward the countries they had fled, thus keeping them in Africa and deterring further migration.