Libya is at the forefront of a refugee and migration crisis. However, this crisis cannot be solved if it is viewed as a Libyan problem only. Rather, the crisis Libya faces is also part of a broader global challenge, with regional implications, driven by factors beyond Libya’s borders, which have manifested within the country as an indirect result of the current conflict and political instability. To effectively address the challenge of migration and Libya, therefore, requires strengthening the national and regional response and mechanisms for cooperation.
To discuss these challenges in greater depth Forward Thinking – with the support of the Order of Malta facilitated – a roundtable meeting in Tunis on the 21-22 November. This was the fourth meeting of the Libyan working group on migration – an inclusive group established in 2015 to explore the migration crisis from a Libyan perspective – and participation was drawn from both Libya and the international community, including: the High State Council, Libyan Ministry Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Libyan civil society, Arab Maghreb Union, UNSMIL, UNOCHA, UNHCR, IoM, EU, Finland, France, and Italy.
It was acknowledged that the flow of migrants was beyond the capacity of any state to address alone and that, as a global problem, it can only be dealt with through international and regional approaches that are developed in close partnership with the Libyan authorities. It was felt that the challenges of migration had to be addressed alongside the wider efforts to build stabilise the Libyan state and that a failure to do so could put at risk these efforts. The different political and tribal factions needed to unite in addressing this challenge and in the process work towards the establishment of a secure and stable state. Challenges of mass migration have a negative impact on the internal politics of all affected countries and must be depoliticised in order to address the crisis. Short-term measures, if mishandled, can aggravate the overall effort to deal with the challenges migration presents. Instead, long-term approaches are urgently needed that deal with all dimensions of the crisis in source, transit and destination countries.