UN Migration Agency Increases Support for Migrants Rescued off Libyan Coast
Tripoli – IOM, the UN Migration Agency this week (27-28/08) met with Libyan authorities in Tunis to discuss an initial workplan and the establishment of a coordination body to facilitate rescues at sea. Libyan agencies taking part included the Libyan Coast Guard, the Libyan Red Crescent, the Passport Investigation Department and the General Department for Coast Security and the Border Points.
IOM has provided computer literacy classes and lifesaving equipment to Libyan authorities as part of a wider intervention to strengthen the Government’s humanitarian capacity. Participants have come from the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG), the Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), as well as the General Department for Coast Security in Azzawya and Zuwara. The classes aim to improve documentation of sea rescue operations, including the registration of migrants at disembarkation points. Thirty participants took part, all involved in rescue operations.
“By better documentation of migrants at the disembarkation points, IOM is hoping to put a registration system in place to help regulate the humanitarian services provided to rescued migrants,” said Maysa Khalil, IOM Libya’s Operations Officer.
IOM also provided information technology equipment, including computers, to the Libyan Coast Guard officers at disembarkation points.
In addition, on 21 August, lifesaving equipment including life buoys, life vests, emergency blankets, torches and protection supplies (gloves, masks, body bags, and disposable suits for retrieving dead bodies) were delivered to the disembarkation points of Abu Setta and Alhamidya. A day later, on 22 August, lifesaving and protection equipment was handed over to the Libyan Coast Guard at the Janzour disembarkation point and Mesfat point in Al-Zawaya and in Zuwara.
“Saving lives remains our highest priority,” emphasized Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. “As it is also a legal obligation, it is important to help the Libyan Coast Guard improve their capacities to save lives and respond in a better way to the needs of the migrants that they rescue.”
IOM recognizes that whilst saving lives remains the top priority, interventions need to be complemented with immediate assistance to rescued migrants following Search and Rescue operations, in particular upon disembarkation on Libyan shores. This includes the provision of humanitarian relief to migrants, as well as regular capacity building training for the Libyan Coast Guard and other stakeholders, particularly in the area of human rights and first aid.
IOM is in the process of rehabilitating three disembarkation points of the planned six. The rehabilitation includes the provision of a shaded area and installation of a water tank, floor cementing, water pumps, lighting systems and cabling networks, as well as toilets and showering facilities, and rehabilitation of the sewage and water piping networks. Migrants can spend anywhere from a few hours to a whole night at these points, following long journeys typically through the Sahara Desert.
IOM’s rescue at sea interventions are funded by the Governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the European Union.