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Centro Astalli calls for cancelling Memorandum with Libya

'Torture and abuse persist after five years, stop the atrocity'

01 February, 16:13

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, 01 FEB - The Jesuit refugee service in Rome, Centro Astalli, is calling for an end to Italy's Memorandum of Understanding with Libya.

    The agreement was signed five years ago to prevent migrants from coming to Europe.

    However, Centro Astalli said, according to international sources about 82,000 people have been intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard over the past five years and forcibly returned to the country they were trying to escape from.

    "Libya today, as it was then, is not a safe country," Centro Astalli said.

    "Systematic violations of international conventions on asylum and respect for human rights are widely documented".

    "In these five years at Centro Astalli we have listened every day to the stories of those who managed to arrive alive in Italy, relying on traffickers," said Father Camillo Ripamonti, Centro Astalli president.

    "This is a minimal percentage of the many who have tried in vain to cross the Mediterranean, mostly very young men and women. Many bear the signs of torture, and they speak of friends, relatives, and children who died of starvation or were killed in front of their eyes. The women we assist are almost all victims of violence and torture. Italy, supporting the policies of European closure, continues to be complicit in an atrocity," he said.

    Centro Astalli is calling for an end to the agreement and for investing resources to evacuate migrants from Libya, as has been done in the past for small numbers of vulnerable people.

    It is also calling for legal and safe entry routes to Italy, such as humanitarian channels, and stable and structural resettlement programmes for significant and proportional shares of asylum seekers and refugees managed by national governments with the support of the United Nations and NGOs; adequate entry quotas for migrant workers, not only for labour, but for real chances for reception and integration on a continent of 450 million inhabitants that in 2021 welcomed less than 200,000 migrants, according to Frontex data; and a widespread search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean, "until the yoke of traffickers is broken, with planned and structural management of migratory flows into Europe". (ANSAmed).

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