#Libya – Situation of migrants and rescue operations up for discussion

| November 29, 2018
On 24 November 2016, the Phoenix rescue vessel, belonging to Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) intercepted an inflatable vessel carrying 146 refugees and migrants who had travelled from West African countries to Libya, and attempted to cross the sea to Europe. Their boat was seriously overloaded and in danger of sinking, four hours into their dangerous sea voyage from the port of Sabratha, on Libya's northern coastline. ©UNHCR/Giuseppe CarotenutoMEPs seek clarification about rescue operations in the Mediterranean© UNHCR/Giuseppe Carotenuto

The situation of migrants in Libya and the conditions under which the Libyan coast guard is conducting rescue operations was debated in the European Parliament on Tuesday (27 November).

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs tried to get clarification from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the newly created Search and Rescue Observatory for the Mediterranean (SAROBMED) about Libya being assigned a Search and Rescue area in the Mediterranean. Being in charge of managing a SAR area implies that vessels carrying migrants and refugees can be ordered to disembark in Libya.

Representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) updated the committee on the situation of migrants and asylum seekers stranded in Libya, particularly in detention centres, and on the progress of the programme for Voluntary Humanitarian Return to countries of origin, managed by this UN agency.

Regional disembarkation platforms and controlled centres

Finally, the European Parliament Legal Service presented MEPs with their views on the lawfulness of the “regional disembarkation platforms” and “controlled centres” proposed by the European Council last June as a means to improve the processing of migrants and refugee flows into the EU.

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