Government provides extra funding to evacuate migrants from Libya

The Dutch government is providing extra funding to give African migrants in Libya and other North African countries the chance to return home. Many migrants are being held in appalling conditions in detention centres run by militias and criminal gangs, until they can be sold as slaves. Abuse and extortion are rife. ‘This form of modern slavery needs to be stopped as quickly as possible,’ said development minister Sigrid Kaag.

The extra funding, €10 million, will go to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) via the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. So far this year, the IOM has helped 13,000 migrants return from Libya to their country of origin. One of the main outcomes of the AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, last week is an initiative to combat people smuggling and human trafficking. ‘We need to do everything we can to stop these practices,’ the minister said. ‘This means creating more scope for a humane return policy as well as tackling the root causes of poverty.’

African and EU countries have agreed a voluntary evacuation plan for all migrants who want to leave Libya. It will be carried out as soon as possible. To this end, the African countries of origin will issue travel documents without delay to all those who want to return home. The IOM and the Libyan authorities will work together to step up the number of daily charter flights from Tripoli to countries like Nigeria and Senegal, where many of the migrants are from. After their return, migrants will get support from the IOM in building a new life, for instance by starting their own business.