Italian authorities have indicated that some 10,000 refugees now stranded in Libya would be admitted to Europe in 2018 as part of efforts by the European Union to save asylum seekers living in inhuman conditions in the North African country.
Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said in an interview published on Sunday that humanitarian corridors would be established next year to allow refugees to come to Europe without being exposed to dangers of smuggling and natural threats at sea.
“In 2018, up to 10,000 refugees will be able to come to Europe without risk, through humanitarian corridors,” said Minniti.
Italy has seen less and less of an influx of refugees from the south across the Mediterranean this year mainly due to agreement between the EU and Libyan authorities to contain the flow on the Libyan shores. However, the deal has proved to be a failure in terms of humanitarian issues as videos and reports emerged from Libya have shown refugees held captive or being sold as slaves in the markets.
To address the deteriorating conditions, EU countries have accepted to grant funds and help Libya relocate or repatriate refugees.
Minniti said international authorities and the Libya government would also seek to send back some 30,000 refugees to their home countries next year.
“In accordance with the objectives of the International Organization for Migration, 30,000 migrants without right to asylum will be able to be repatriated to their countries on a voluntary basis,” he said, adding, “With the help of the Libyan authorities, we have constructed a new management model on the other side of the Mediterranean.”
Estimates suggest that between 400 to 700 thousand refugees are now trapped in Libya aiming to make their way into Europe.