For illegal migrants, Libya’s 2,500km-long southern frontier is wide open.
On any given day, some 600 cross over, Libya Herald quoted a military commander in the Tebou-controlled Murzuq region as saying on Friday (September 20th).
“Tripoli authorities have never come to visit the borders. We send requests for more materials: new cars and new weapons but we have never received a reply,” Colonel “Barca” (no first name given) said.
After entering the country, the illegal immigrants go to the cities.
In an incident that caused widespread worry in Benghazi, hundreds of migrants escaped from a camp in the central town area on September 14th.
Local authorities had decided to remove 730 Somalia, Eritrea, Mali and Niger nationals to another camp in Brak al-Shatie, about 60 kilometres north of Sebha.
“We’d previously removed 225 refugees,” said Ayman al-Khafifi, chairman of the joint committee for the control of illegal immigrants in Benghazi.
“However, just six months later, we were surprised to see them back in town in even greater numbers,” he told Magharebia.
Al-Khafifi blames the state for its failure to control the influx of illegal immigrants, straining the country’s national security and destabilising its economy.
He noted that the number of expatriates, whether illegal African immigrants or Arab refugees, especially in Benghazi, was now greater than the number of Libyan citizens themselves.
Walid El-Ourfi of the interior ministry’s immigration control group explained the effect on the local communities.
“The UN High Commissioner for Refugee’s delay in taking decisions about asylum applications filed by Africans who fled their countries because of internal wars has led to an increase in their numbers in cities which already suffered from dense population,” the official said.
There are no rules or laws in place to control illegal immigration to Libya, he said.
“Our department has administrative jurisdiction over the entire eastern region, operating with 6 vehicles without permanent headquarters,” he said. “This hinders our performance,” he added. “We have requested help from the government and the General National Congress (GNC).”
And they will keep flooding into Libya, according to Mohammed Alkoshkari, a 39-year old Sabha resident.
“Immigrants dreaming of Europe choose Libya as a starting point,” he said.
Ali Arhim, a 35-year-old employee at the industry ministry, called for better co-operation between states sharing the same borders.
“As for the south, more surveillance is needed,” he said.
Article by Fathia al-Majbari, Magharebia.
This article was originally published here.