Concerns rise about migrant abuses in Central Mediterranean route

Jul 5, 2024 | Libyan actors

On 5 July, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) and IOM published a report called ‘Abuse, protection and justice along routes between East and West Africa and Africa’s Mediterranean Coast: A route-based perspective on key risks’ alongside a data visualisation called ‘Death in the Desert’ mapping routes, danger and risk for migrants across the Sahara Desert. The report stressed that essential humanitarian assistance and protection services are currently almost nonexistent, even in many locations reported to be dangerous. UNHCR, IOM and the MMC are calling for a new joint response that would involve coordinated action by States, UN organizations and other partners along key routes used by both refugees and migrants.

The report estimated that land routes in Africa are twice as deadly as the sea lanes across the Mediterranean — which is the deadliest maritime route for migrants in the world. Tripoli is the most dangerous location for migrants anywhere in the Sahara and Sahel region according to the data, with over 7,000 reports of abuse (including Gender-Based Violence), with Sebha listed second (followed by a list of other Libyan cities). 90 per cent of women and girls moving through Libya are raped, according to estimates from UN Women. In addition to being raped or sexually assaulted, migrant and refugee women are forced to pay bribes by way of so-called sexual favours, including for entire groups of migrants. Often women are forced into sex work to cover the cost of their journey, and there are accounts of women forced to marry and have children with their kidnappers.