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Italy to Open Asylum Centre in Tripoli

Italy is planning to set up an asylum application centre in Tripoli to process refugees entitled to resettlement in third European countries based on EU's compulsory refugee quotas.

Angelino Alfano, Italy’s Foreign Minister, has unveiled the plan in a meeting with a parliamentary committee before flying to Tripoli on Thursday to seal the deal with Fayez Serraj, head of Libya’s UN-backed government. “The programme will begin with a pilot project to resettle 1,000 migrants in several countries around the world. It’s going to be a revolutionary process for providing details about these individuals to host countries who are unable to interview them if they have closed their embassies in Tripoli,” Mr Alfano told the committee.

Sub-Saharan migrants make up majority of Libya’s migrant population estimated at 1 million. Photo: Ministry of Interior

The first step is finding a Tripoli property big enough to accommodate 1000 migrants and safe enough to house the EU nationals who will run it. The Italian government is said to be considering a few options including a former police training facility. The center will be an open space to allow migrants to come and go as they please, says Roberto Mignone, head of Libya office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who was also quoted as saying that 230 Nepalese soldiers will shortly arrive in Tripoli to secure the facility expected to be open for business in November.

The scheme was met with criticism from MSF and other human rights groups who feared that Libya’s lack of asylum regulations will make the new facility nothing but a glorified detention centre for migrants. Critics of the project say that in the absence of laws regulating asylum, everyone entering Libya without visa will be subject to detention and deportation.

Moroccan illegal migrants in Tripoli’s detention centre. Photo: Ministry of Interior

Italian daily Il manifesto reported yesterday that the United Nations has asked the Italian government to use its good relationship with Mr Serraj to convince him to sign the Geneva Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to pass a law regulating asylum. Something that Mr Serraj will unlikely be capable of doing without the Libyan parliament’s consent. And here lies the problem: Libya’s House of Representatives (HoR), still hasn’t even endorsed Mr Serraj’s own cabinet. There is also the risk that Italy’s pressure on Mr Serraj might be used against him domestically by opponents seeking to prove that he is a puppet in the hands of Western powers.

 |  Libya Times Editor  |  News
illigal migrants

Italy is planning to set up an asylum application centre in Tripoli to process refugees entitled to resettlement in third European countries based on EU's compulsory refugee quotas.

Angelino Alfano, Italy’s Foreign Minister, has unveiled the plan in a meeting with a parliamentary committee before flying to Tripoli on Thursday to seal the deal with Fayez Serraj, head of Libya’s UN-backed government. “The programme will begin with a pilot project to resettle 1,000 migrants in several countries around the world. It’s going to be a revolutionary process for providing details about these individuals to host countries who are unable to interview them if they have closed their embassies in Tripoli,” Mr Alfano told the committee.

Sub-Saharan migrants make up majority of Libya’s migrant population estimated at 1 million. Photo: Ministry of Interior

The first step is finding a Tripoli property big enough to accommodate 1000 migrants and safe enough to house the EU nationals who will run it. The Italian government is said to be considering a few options including a former police training facility. The center will be an open space to allow migrants to come and go as they please, says Roberto Mignone, head of Libya office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who was also quoted as saying that 230 Nepalese soldiers will shortly arrive in Tripoli to secure the facility expected to be open for business in November.

The scheme was met with criticism from MSF and other human rights groups who feared that Libya’s lack of asylum regulations will make the new facility nothing but a glorified detention centre for migrants. Critics of the project say that in the absence of laws regulating asylum, everyone entering Libya without visa will be subject to detention and deportation.

Moroccan illegal migrants in Tripoli’s detention centre. Photo: Ministry of Interior

Italian daily Il manifesto reported yesterday that the United Nations has asked the Italian government to use its good relationship with Mr Serraj to convince him to sign the Geneva Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to pass a law regulating asylum. Something that Mr Serraj will unlikely be capable of doing without the Libyan parliament’s consent. And here lies the problem: Libya’s House of Representatives (HoR), still hasn’t even endorsed Mr Serraj’s own cabinet. There is also the risk that Italy’s pressure on Mr Serraj might be used against him domestically by opponents seeking to prove that he is a puppet in the hands of Western powers.


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