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Department of Culture and Global Studies

Op-ed: Externalizing brutality to Libya is not an answer to displacement

Op-ed: Externalizing brutality to Libya is not an answer to displacement

Last week, GRS' Martin Lemberg-Pedersen wrote an op-ed for the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) about European co-responsibility for the tragedies of the Libyan migration system.

In the op-ed, Lemberg-Pedersen writes about “dystopian images of tsunamis of refugee-arrivals” European politicians have increasingly used since 2015, accompanied by increasing securitization and externalization initiatives to avoid refugees and migrants reaching Europe.

Libya is at the center of these externalization measures, and has become an area, where more and more African refugees and migrants end up stuck under inhumane conditions. Martin Lemberg-Pedersen writes:

“On November 28, 2017, EU and Italy announced the allocation of €285 million to search and rescue centres in Libya, thus siding with one of several competing power bases in the country, the Tripoli-based government. This complemented an earlier EU-commitment of €46 million to two control facilities in Tripoli, operated by security forces.

These initiatives, like many others, are now heralded as innovative game-changers by senior union officials, but are also fiercely criticized by human rights organizations. […] The summer and fall of 2017 have offered terrible glimpses into the dehumanizing consequences of the externalization of migration control to Libyan territory. Images of abandoned corpses, young men offered on slave-markets, scars and fearful eyes telling tales of rampant beatings, abuse and torture and women traded for systematic rape in camps designed for the same purpose have created shock in the European and global public. Newspapers and documentaries have picked up the stories from the racialized hierarchies of the Libyan migration system leading the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi to call the conditions an “abomination”.”

Read the full op-ed here

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