Centre Provides Humanitarian Assistance to Stranded Migrants in Libya

Posted: 
03/10/08

A centre to provide humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants
stranded in Libya will officially open tomorrow, 12 March in
Tripoli.

The centre, part of a broader EU-funded initiative to provide
comprehensive rapid humanitarian responses to the plight of
stranded migrants, will provide migrants with factual, unbiased
information on the dangers of irregular migration along with the
option of voluntary return to and reintegration assistance in their
country of origin.

In addition to providing temporary accommodation for up to 40
people, medical assistance, support and counselling, the centre
will be a training ground for Libyan counterparts to strengthen
expertise on assisted voluntary returns. The centre, co-managed by
IOM and Libyan counterparts, which includes civil society, will
eventually be fully handed over by IOM.

"Every week, dozens of vulnerable migrants, mainly from
sub-Saharan Africa, come to the IOM office in Tripoli pleading for
return and reintegration assistance. Their dreams to reach Europe
have failed or their life as an undocumented migrant is too fraught
with difficulties," says IOM's Laurence Hart. "The centre, open to
all migrants who wish to return home in dignity and who are in need
of help, will provide a complementary concept to deportations. It
can also be a model for counterparts in Libya and elsewhere."

Representatives from the diplomatic community, the Libyan and
Italian governments, the European Commission and Mali's ambassador
to Tripoli will attend the inauguration of the centre together with
IOM's regional representative for the Mediterranean, Peter
Schatzer, reflecting the importance of the centre for countries in
the region and beyond.

With some 4,000 kilometres of land and 1,700 kilometres of sea
borders, Libya is both a transit and destination country. The
number of irregular migrants drawn to Libya by the demand for
unskilled labour and by the strength of the local economy has
increased substantially over the past years to reach an estimated
one million.

However, many are stranded in transit, unable to either get to
Europe safely or to return home. Since April 2006 when IOM first
started offering assistance to voluntary return home to those in
need, nearly 1,830 irregular migrants in Libya have been helped.
Those assisted have been largely to Niger, Ghana, Mali and Sudan in
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asian countries such as
Bangladesh.

The Organization has funding to help about 2,200 migrants until
the end of July this year and is now looking for funding to assist
migrants through the centre beyond the summer.

For further information, please contact:

Laurence Hart

IOM Tripoli

Tel: +218 91 383 25 96

E-mail: "mailto:lhart@iom.int">lhart@iom.int

or

Jean-Philippe Chauzy

Tel: +41 79 285 43 66

E-mail: "mailto:pchauzy@iom.int">pchauzy@iom.int