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The AU–EU–UN Tripartite Taskforce on the Situation of Stranded Migrant and Refugees in Libya met this morning in New York in the margins of the high-level General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission, Amira El Fadil, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the IOM Director General, António Vitorino, discussed the next steps and priorities of the Taskforce, its support in Libya and possibilities for further joint work.
The Taskforce was put in place by the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations in November 2017, at the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, aiming to save and protect the lives of migrants and refugees along the migratory routes, and in particular inside Libya.
This allowed the launch of a major assisted voluntary humanitarian return programme and evacuation operation, which until today has led to over 48,000 voluntary humanitarian returns of migrants from Libya to their home countries facilitated by IOM and AU Member States, as well as over 4,000 evacuations of refugees by UNHCR from Libya. However, the conflict in Libya continues to heavily impact on the already fragile and deteriorating humanitarian situation of many civilians, including migrants and refugees in the country and as result Libya is in need of further support to better address challenges it continues to face, in line with existing international frameworks and instruments, norms and standards. In this respect, the members of the Taskforce deliberated on how to consolidate cooperation with the Libyan authorities in efforts to scale up assisted voluntary returns and evacuations from Libya, dismantle the existing system of arbitrary arrests and detention of migrants and create alternatives to detention, as well as ensure the rights of migrants and refugees are equally protected. The members’ also reiterated the need to redouble efforts aimed at supporting returning migrants in a more comprehensive manner to reintegrate back into their communities in countries of origin for a sustained return programme. The Taskforce welcomed, in particular the initiative by Rwanda, the African Union and the UNHCR to establish an Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda that allows for the evacuation of persons in need of international protection out of Libya, as an important gesture of African solidarity.
The Taskforce members agreed that the AU-EU-UN Taskforce represents a unique framework for joint, trilateral action that has proven to be successful in achieving results on the ground. They reiterated their commitment as well as the need for further strengthened coordinative mechanisms of the Taskforce and agreed to explore possibilities to increase AU-EU-UN cooperation.