The Human Rights division of the European Union has recently been faced with the task of improving its policies with regard to the Libyan Refugee problem. The Union wishes to uphold its policy of containment of refugees, but changes to the policy may be necessary for continuation.
· Background of the Refugee Problem
For over two years, refugees attempting to escape poverty and war in Libya have been migrating across the Mediterranean to flee into Europe. The journey by boat is very dangerous, and over 2,550 refugees have already lost their lives due to capsizing boats and drowning. The European Union has opposed this mass migration and has made attempts to prevent Libyan refugees, as well as refugees from other parts of Africa and the Middle East, from reaching European shores.
· Containment Policies
The European Union adopted a strict containment policy to protect its borders and keep out refugees migrating from Libya. This containment policy, largely created through a 2016 deal with Turkey, focuses on preventing boats from leaving Libyan coasts by providing supplies, money, and training to Libyan officials and coast guard members. Other policies include the closure of major migration routes. Migration decreased drastically in the summer of 2017, dropping from 28,000 to 10,000.
· Italy Takes an Aggressive Approach
Italian officials have taken matters into their own hands, with a recent deployment of naval ships to patrol the Libyan coastline. These military ships, which were first announced in July, aim to send any refugees attempting to escape back to Libya. Despite sharing anti-immigration beliefs, the EU has questioned Italy’s methods and suggested that they may be in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.
· Moral Concerns Prompt Change
The morality of all European Union policies on refugee migration has come into question. Human rights concerns involve the inhumane treatment of refugees by the Libyan government, including treatment while in detainment centers. These centers pose concerns such as malnutrition, disease, torture, and sexual abuse. Recently introduced policies include increased funding for UN migration and refugee organizations aimed at improving conditions for refugees.
The European Union continues to weigh morality and human rights concerns in Libya, while attempting to maintain border control and national security policies. The following weeks and months will surely serve as a test of this balance and will hopefully result in policy changes that protect human rights.
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