Increasing trend of attempted sea crossings and returns to Libya
An increasing number of migrants and refugees continued to be intercepted/rescued at sea and returned to Libya. As of 30 June, more than 14,700 migrants were intercepted/rescued at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) and returned to Libya, surpassing the number of migrants intercepted or rescued and disembarked in all of 2020. In comparison, over the same period last year, the LCG intercepted/rescued a total of 5,350 refugees and migrants at sea, demonstrating an increase of 77 per cent this year. In June alone, over 4,523 individuals have been disembarked; hundreds of others have perished at sea.
Migrants and refugees disembarked in Libya often end up in appalling conditions where they may be exposed to abuse and extortion. Others go missing and are unaccounted for, raising fears that some may have been channeled into human trafficking networks. The continuing departures from Libya highlight the need for a predictable rescue and disembarkation mechanism along the Central Mediterranean route, with immediate effect and in full compliance with international human rights principles and standards.
IOM/DTM Libya identified a total of 591,415 migrants from over 43 nationalities in the 100 Libyan municipalities in March and April 2021 during Round 36 of data collection. During the reporting period, the number of migrants in Libya continued to increase slightly compared to previous rounds of data collection while remaining lower than pre-pandemic levels. This rise is likely the result of a combination of factors, including the gradual ease of mobility restrictions since the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Libya in mid-April 2021, as well as the improvement in the security situation since the ceasefire agreement and the formation of the government of national unity in March 2021. However, the slow pace of recovery from years of conflict and political instability, and more recently, the impact of the pandemic on the local economy, continue to affect migrants in Libya as well. In addition, given the extreme temperatures during the heat wave in Libya, resulting in power outages across the country, the situation in detention centers, confining over 6,170 migrants and refugees, is extremely inhumane.