Impact of the Memorandum of Understanding on Refugees and Migrants in Libya

Melake, Yeabio. Impact of the Memorandum of Understanding on Refugees and Migrants in Libya. 2022, Master Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/88796/

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At the centre of this thesis is a bilateral agreement called the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between Libya and Italy on February 2, 2017. This was done mainly to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants, human trafficking, and smuggling networks from Libya to Italy. Shortly after its implementation, conditions in Libyan detention centres became inhumane and shocking due to serious human rights violations of refugees and migrants. On the contrary, the EU generally and the Italian government specifically, insist that their migration agreement with the UN-recognised Libyan government has saved lives tremendously on the Central Mediterrean route, curbing human trafficking and smuggling networks. Thus, the purpose of this study is to discuss the practices of Libyan border management and to explore refugees’ and migrants’ lived experiences and main challenges in Libya after the implementation of MoU. Furthermore, it aims to develop a proper understanding of the unintended effects of MoU on refugees and migrants.
The study is based on the testimonies of eight Eritrean refugees who had been detained in Libya after the MoU and arrived in Switzerland and other parts of Europe as a part of a UNHCR resettlement program. This study employed document analysis in combination with qualitative data analysis methods. A phenomenological approach to exploring the lived experiences of refugees and migrants was used within a qualitative paradigm. The interviewer adopted an in-depth interview for the purpose of gaining a full understanding of the common experiences of all informants.
The first significant finding reveals that MoU has exposed refugees and migrants to kidnapping and different kinds of violence and has also caused them to experience a hellish life in traffickers’ camps. The Libyan Law Enforcement Forces (LLEF) work hand in hand with traffickers and smugglers. Additional refugees and migrants inside UNHCR camps were exposed to a bare life due to overcrowded living conditions, infectious diseases, and attacks from armed groups. Furthermore, torture, rape, and persecution are common phenomena in UNHCR camps, as those who are intended to protect refugees and migrants instead become the main perpetrators of violence. Other significant findings reveal that as refugees and migrates became victims of border-induced displacement, they start to turn to smugglers by escaping the UNHCR camp. Consequently, smuggling, and human trafficking funnelled in Libya and the death rate of migrates on the Central Mediterrean route have increased since 2017.
Advisors:Macamo, Elisio
Committee Members:Zimmermann Merron, James Lawrence
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Soziologie > Afrikastudien (Macamo)
UniBasel Contributors:Macamo, Elisio and Zimmermann Merron, James Lawrence
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Master Thesis
Thesis status:Complete
Last Modified:03 Jul 2022 04:30
Deposited On:02 Jul 2022 14:58

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