Libya has reportedly agreed to allow approximately 400 Eritreans to remain in Libya, though they will not be given refugee protection as Libya is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention.
ANSAmed reported that Italian officials have claimed credit for Libya’s decision, though the Italians have questioned whether any of the Eritreans have been mistreated and whether any of the Eritreans were subjected to Italy’s push-back practice. Italian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Stefania Craxi stated that ”the Italian government never backed away from raising awareness with Libyan authorities on the topic of human rights.” Craxi said ”it is thanks to the Italian government [that] the UNHCR activities in Tripoli have started again, albeit in an informal and conditioned way.” Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said ”it is unbelievable that Brussels did not even make a press release. [Italy] worked in silence, without proclamations, sadly with the total and absolute absence of Europe. We asked for a compromise, a mediation and the result came.”
While it is good if the Italian Government did indeed work to arrive at a temporary and imperfect solution for this particular group of Eritreans and it is good that the Italian ministers speak of respecting human rights in Libya, the Italians should be equally if not more concerned with the human rights implications of their push-back practice in the Mediterranean.
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