At a meeting of European and African ministers on the migrant crisis in Europe, Swiss justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga has called for Libya to open its migrant holding centres to the United Nations.
On Monday, Sommaruga participated in the second Europe-Africa ministerial contact group meeting on migration in Tunis, where she asked Libyan authorities to work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to ensure the human rights of migrants are respected. The detention centres hold migrants intercepted at sea by Libyan coast guard patrols. NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed concerns over ill treatment and even torture and sexual abuse at these detention centres.
“The crisis in Libya is one of the most complex. Unfortunately, the situation there will continue,” she told Swiss News Agency STA. She added that there will no solution until the Libya become a stable country.
The meeting was convened to discuss solutions to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean region through cooperation between officials in Europe and Africa. Over 90,000 migrants have reached Italy from Africa via the Mediterranean Sea in the first half of the year. The IOM estimates that around 2,000 have lost their lives while undertaking the perilous journey.
Countries that attended the discussions included Algeria, Austria, Chad, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mali, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Estonia (EU Council president).
The ministers at the meeting agreed that the only way to limit migration from Africa to Europe is to address the root causes of migration from Europe to Africa, collaborate against people-traffickers and cooperate in repatriating those who want to return home voluntarily. Switzerland has already set aside CHF54 million for the period 2017-2020 to tackle migration-related issues as part of its international development commitments in North Africa. The Alpine nation will host the next Europe-Africa ministerial contact group meeting.
swissinfo.ch and agencies