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Head of MSF Mission in Libya tells Macron that Europe & France are “endangering” lives of migrants

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TRIPOLI – Head of Mission of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Libya, Julien Raickman, published on Friday a letter addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron, in which he challenged Macron on European migration policies.

“I take the liberty to speak directly to you to to share what I see on a daily basis, in Libya,” said Raickman addressing the French President in a letter published on MSF’s website.

“I work for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Libya, where our organization is present in nine detention centers for refugees and migrants, in Tripoli and the central region around Misrata, trying to cover the medical needs of about 3,000 people.”

“Their vulnerability is absolute, their fate in arbitrary hands and our presence, along with those of other humanitarian actors, can barely help them.”

“The principles the European Union advocates are based on the rejection of violence based on ethnicity, nationality or religion. In Libya, however, we see people suffering from arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, under-nutrition, torture.” He stated before adding, “We are also talking here about women, infants, unaccompanied children, detained in inhuman conditions, and this solely on the basis of their origin and their administrative status.”

“The Italian government gave boats to the Libyan coastguard, France announced to do the same in February. At the very moment of this announcement, on February 21, I was in Libya and a boat had just been brought back to Khoms after a day and a half at sea. Among its 116 passengers, vulnerable people, men and women, six children, including one of 6 months. Terrorized, hungry, hypothermic, they were sent to detention in improvisation and chaos.”

“It is difficult for humanitarian workers to testify, otherwise our access to detention centers will be even more limited; the very words of this letter have been weighed many times. No image from Libyan detention centers is allowed, the collection of testimonies difficult or impossible sometimes.”

Raickman noted that “nearly 2,300 dead or missing in the Mediterranean in 2018, mainly off the coast of Libya.” He stated that rescue boats are prevented by “administrative and judicial maneuvers.”

Raickman wrote that Europe “can not accommodate all the misery of the world”, however, he stressed that the situation in the Mediterranean and in Libya is too severe to be ignored.

“The Libyan authorities themselves have repeatedly indicated their limited capacity, including monitoring what is happening in some detention centers.” He affirmed.

“Our conclusions are simple, Mr President, things can not go on like this. Europe, and France in the first place, endanger lives and deny their principles by continuing this policy.” stated Raickman as he urged Macron to stop returning migrants to Libya.

Raickman also urged the French President to allow NGOs to participate in rescue operations at sea and to “help provide an alternative to systematic detention.”

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