Europe’s Security Approach Failing to Halt Migration from Libya

Sarah Hamood

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The rising numbers of arrivals in Italy and Malta from Libya since around 2000 have created an urgent desire within the European Union to prevent arrivals from this new point of departure, leading to the initiation of cooperation between the EU and Libya on migration. As in many other settings, this cooperation has predominantly comprised two elements: to secure the borders of the EU to prevent entry; and to return so-called illegal migrants to their countries of origin, or at least to the country of transit. This article focuses on the processes of return both from Italy to Libya and from Libya to countries of origin, which put so-called migrants at risk of refoulement, either indirectly or directly. It argues that returns from both countries follow a similar collective approach to arrivals, which predominantly fails to deal with cases on an individual basis, and results in a violation of the right to asylum. It contends that this approach is ineffective as a method to prevent entry into the EU, given the lengths that people are willing to go to in order to reach the EU and their awareness, in advance of travel, of the risks and hardships they might face both en route and on arrival. 

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article: 

Hamood, Sarah. Europe’s Security Approach Failing to Halt Migration from Libya. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2008, vol.10, no.2, pp. 128-144, UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol10/issue2/art2

About the author: 

Sara Hamood works as a policy advisor on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory for Oxfam Novib. In 2006 and 2007, she covered the Darfur crisis and conducted research on human rights organisations in the Middle East and North Africa for the Ford Foundation. In 2005 she carried out a six-month research project, which was the first to examine, in detail, transit migration through Libya from a rights-based perspective. This culminated in the publication in January 2006 of a report entitled African Transit Migration through Libya to Europe: the Human Cost. From 2000 to 2005 she worked in the North Africa Team at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, where she covered Egypt, Libya and Morocco/Western Sahara.

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