Human Rights First Backgrounder: States’ Obligations to Protect Refugees Fleeing Libya

Excerpts from the Backgrounder:

Currently, Tunisia and Egypt are experiencing an influx of people fleeing Libya. These persons include nationals of those two countries seeking to return home, as well as Libyans and smaller numbers of nationals of other countries in search of safety. Both Tunisia and Egypt, themselves emerging from turmoil, have kept their borders open and are receiving those fleeing Libya. …

All states affected by the ongoing crisis are bound to respect the following [core] principles governing the treatment of refugees….

Protection of refugees is a collective international responsibility. In practice, however, it is those countries that are closest to or most accessible from Libya and its neighbors that will be called upon to protect the majority of refugees who may seek international protection in the immediate term….

At a time when all countries in the region and their neighbors in the EU may see an increase in migration by people fleeing persecution and violence as well as worsening economic conditions, it is critically important that those who have a claim to international protection be given access to procedures to obtain it. The international community more broadly and the EU should assist those States that bear the brunt of this challenge in dealing with it in a way that is consistent with their international obligations. At the same time, Italy and other EU member states and institutions must refrain from pushing migrants back to Libya or any other country without identifying those in need of international protection and allowing those who need such protection to apply for it.

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Filed under Analysis, Egypt, European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, Tunisia

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