Libyan Nationals in the United Kingdom: Geopolitical Considerations and Trends in Asylum and Return

Brad K. Blitz

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This article explores the evolving geopolitical importance of Libya as a strategic partner for the United Kingdom and considers the way in which policies on migration have been used to cement the renewed relationship between the two countries. It considers in particular, the impact of the Memoranda of Understanding between the UK and Libya and the use of related readmission agreements to facilitate the return of Libyan nationals from the UK. It analyses some of the challenges facing Libyans seeking asylum and settlement in the UK and the prospect of their return to Libya in the light of the UK’s domestic policies on asylum and security interests regarding the “war on terror”. This study establishes a profile of Libyans currently in the UK and examines existing case law and Home Office guidelines to explain the conditions under which Libyans have been granted or refused asylum and subsequently removed from the UK to Libya. The main finding study is that the imperative of security cooperation has increased the likelihood that more Libyan migrants will be returned from the UK, and this poses a worrying scenario, especially given Libya’s record of refoulement and other human rights abuses. In the absence of a system for dealing with asylum inside Libya, returning Libyan nationals and transit migrants from neighbouring African countries are particularly vulnerable. 

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article: 

Blitz, Brad K. Libyan Nationals in the United Kingdom: Geopolitical Considerations and Trends in Asylum and Return. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2008, vol.10, no.2, pp. 106-127. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

About the author: 

Brad K. Blitz is Jean Monnet Chair of the Political Geography of Europe at Oxford Brookes University (United Kingdom). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University (United States) and has published studies on migration and comparative politics in the context of European integration, transitions to democracy and post-conflict development. He has served as a consultant to several international agencies including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, World Bank, Council of Europe, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as several governments. In 2006, he published War and Change in the Balkans: Nationalism, Conflict and Cooperation with Cambridge University Press and is completing a five-country study on freedom of movement and citizenship in Europe and Russia. Recent articles have appeared in Journal of European Social PolicyHuman Rights ReviewCitizenship StudiesJournal of Human RightsJournal of Refugee Studies, and Political Studies. E-mail: brad_blitz(at)

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