One Month Since Libya’s Migrant Tragedy, Detentions Continue

One month after the attack on Tajoura, Libya which killed 53 detainees and injured more than 87 others, little has been done to help the incarcerated migrants in the turbulent country. Many sub-Saharan Africans migrants go to Libya hoping to make it to Europe and a better life. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS

By James Reinl
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 1 2019 – It is almost one month since an airstrike on a detention centre in Libya killed and injured scores of migrants and refugees locked up inside, many of whom were detained for doing nothing worse than fleeing instability or seeking better lives in Europe.

This week, it looked like world powers were finally making an effort to persuade Libya’s United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to come good on its promise to free the thousands of refugees in lockups under its control.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday, diplomats were “concerned by the situation of refugees and migrants” in Libya, and were poised to take action, last month’s council president and Peruvian envoy Gustavo Meza-Cuadra told reporters afterwards.

Earlier, diplomats heard from the U.N.’s envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, who said the Jul. 2 bloodbath at the facility in Tajoura, a suburb of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, should prompt officials to close such centres once and for all.

“What is required is that they be shuttered,” Salame said via a video link from Tripoli.

“I urge the council now to call upon the authorities in Tripoli to take the long-delayed but much-needed strategic decision to free those who are detained in these centres.”

One month after the attack on Tajoura, which killed 53 detainees and injured more than 87 others — mostly sub-Saharan Africans who were seeking better lives in Europe — little has been done to help the incarcerated migrants in the turbulent country.

Despite GNA pledges to close Tajoura, officials instead filled the bombed-out hangar on a military base with some 200 new migrants and refugees since the late-night air strike that caused chaos and carnage in eastern Tripoli.

To make matters worse, new detainees include migrants who were picked up by Libya’s coast guard after their vessel capsized in the Mediterranean on Jul. 26 — a catastrophe that saw as many as 150 passengers drown.

Some 5,000 refugees and migrants are detained in facilities under the control of or linked to the GNA, Salame said. Some 3,800 of these were on the front lines of fighting in the North African country’s civil war.

The Lebanese diplomat also criticised the European Union (EU) for funding a scheme that sees Libya’s coast guard intercept migrant boats at sea before returning them to Libya and detaining them in places like Tajoura. 

Likewise, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other campaign groups have criticised the 28-nation bloc for bemoaning Libya’s ill-treatment of migrants while at the same time backing schemes that lead to abuse.

Amnesty has decried the “utterly inhumane” conditions inside Libya’s migrant lockups, where detainees have “little access to food, water or medical care” and endure “brutal treatment, torture, rape – and even being sold”.

John Dalhuisen, a regional expert with the European Stability Initiative, a think-tank, said the EU was complicit in abuses by making it harder for refugees and migrants to exit Libya and cross the Mediterranean.

“The EU has backed a policy that essentially amounts to containment. It has invested and trained the Libyan coast guard and reduced its own rescue services in a very successful effort to stop migrants reaching Europe,” Dalhuisen told IPS.

“It made some effort to improve conditions in Libyan detention facilities and secure access to them for international agencies, but with very modest results.”

An EU spokesperson told IPS that it backs Libya’s coast guard in an effort to stop refugees and migrants from perishing at sea, but that the 28-nation bloc was strongly against locking them up back on Libyan soil.

U.N. bodies, including the refugee agency UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration, have assisted detained migrants and even arranged for some to be released and sent back to their countries of origin.

Some have been assessed and gained refuge in Europe; others have been settled elsewhere, such as Niger. But these schemes have only affected a tiny proportion of the estimated half-million refugees and migrants in Libya.    

Judith Sunderland, an associate director for HRW, said “space is limited” in UNHCR resettlement schemes and there are logjams, with few “longer-term solutions” for settling refugees after temporary stops in Niger.

“The UNHCR’s programme to evacuate asylum seekers and refugees from Libya is severely handicapped by the low number of resettlement pledges by European countries and the slow pace of actual resettlement of the few that are processed,” Sunderland told IPS.

The situation is complicated by turbulence across Libya, which has seen little but violence since the 2011 uprising that killed president Muammar Gaddafi and saw the nation collapse into a civil war that continues today.

The airstrike that devastated Tajoura occurred after renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive in early April to seize control of Tripoli. The GNA blames the LNA for the deaths, which the LNA denies.

Elinor Raikes, a regional director for the International Rescue Committee, an aid group that operates in Libya, said that locking up migrants was not a problem only in North Africa, but part of a global anti-immigrant phenomenon.

“Arbitrary detention is not a just response to seeking safety, but countries across the world, including in Europe and the United States, are taking part in what is a deeply concerning trend,” Raikes told IPS.

“Detention has become a form of border management, and this has meant that thousands of people are intercepted at sea and on land and then detained in inadequate living conditions, often in overcrowded cells at risk of disease and infection.”

Weinberg Foundation Selects Newest Trustee

Baltimore, MD, Aug. 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Baltimore (August 1, 2019) "" The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States, is pleased to announce the selection of its newest trustee, Mr. Nimrod Goor. Mr. Goor is the first Israeli trustee in the Weinberg Foundation's history. His appointment was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees on July 29, 2019. Mr. Goor will begin his term immediately. The Foundation's Board of Trustees includes five outstanding individuals, four of whom have been appointed since 2016, including: Ambassador Fay Hartog–Levin (Ret.) who began her term in May 2016; Paula B. Pretlow who began her term in January 2018; Gordon Berlin who began his term in January 2019; and now Nimrod Goor who has just started his term. Robert T. Kelly, Jr. currently serves as the Board Chair.

"Mr. Goor's selection as trustee represents the culmination of a 13–year process of migrating the Foundation's governance structure to one led by independent trustees," stated Robert T. Kelly, Jr., Weinberg Foundation Board Chair. "Mr. Goor's appointment not only rounds out the composition of the Board in terms of geographic diversity, it also affirms the Foundation's long–term commitment to Israel."

The Foundation will distribute $125 million in grants in 2019, including $12 million in Israel, focused on three priorities: enabling older adults to age in their communities with independence and quality of life; helping individuals obtain quality jobs; and meeting the needs of women and children at risk. Israel has been and will continue to be a priority community for the Weinberg Foundation. Priority communities are cities with personal ties to the life and legacy of Harry Weinberg, as well as cities where current trustees reside and provide leadership. These cities include Baltimore, Maryland, where the Foundation's headquarters is located; Honolulu, Hawaii, where the Foundation manages a real estate portfolio; Northeastern Pennsylvania; Chicago; San Francisco; New York; and rural communities.

"I am very excited and honored to join the Board of Trustees of the Weinberg Foundation," said Mr. Goor. "I have been extremely impressed with the quality of the Board and professionals at the Foundation. During my recent visit to Baltimore, I was especially impressed with the Foundation's commitment to assisting low–income and vulnerable individuals and families in the US and Israel. It will be a privilege to contribute to such a meaningful and impactful mission."

The Weinberg Foundation's five trustees are responsible for setting the policies that guide the Foundation's grantmaking and investment programs. Mr. Goor is a founding partner at Helios Energy Investments, Israel's largest private equity fund specializing in renewable energy power generation in Europe and Israel.

"Nimrod Goor will add significant depth to our investment committee, and his extensive experience in philanthropy in both the United States and Israel will complement the Foundation's grant strategies," noted Rachel Garbow Monroe, Weinberg Foundation President and CEO. "His appointment underscores the Foundation's commitment to securing extraordinary talent at both the Board and professional levels. With Nimrod's appointment, the Board is now in a position to provide many years of strong leadership and continuity for the Foundation."

Prior to Helios, Mr. Goor was a Partner at Precede Technologies, which invested in the clean technology sector. He has held multiple managerial positions in various technology and aerospace companies in the US and Israel, including Model N ("MODN" NYSE), MedSim medical simulation and Banner Aerospace ("BAR" NYSE). In addition to his business activities, Mr. Goor has been engaged in various nonprofit organizations in the US and Israel, including the San Francisco Federation, AIPAC, and Hausner Jewish Community Day School in Palo Alto, California. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Gvanim Association in Sderot, Israel, as well as a Board Member at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of The American Jewish Joint Distribution's Lay Leadership Center in Israel. Mr. Goor served seven years with the Israeli Air Force as a combat pilot. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Tel–Aviv and California Coast University, as well as an MBA from the Harvard School of Business Administration. Mr. Goor is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program from San Francisco. He and his wife, Dorothy Goor, are the parents of three children.

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About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the 50 largest private charitable foundations in the United States, is dedicated to meeting the basic needs of vulnerable people and families experiencing poverty. In 2019, the Foundation will provide approximately $125 million in grants to nonprofits that provide direct services in the areas of Housing, Health, Jobs, Education, and Community Services. The Foundation's priority communities include Baltimore, Chicago, Hawaii, Israel, New York City, Northeastern Pennsylvania, San Francisco, and Rural Communities (primarily rural areas within proximity to priority communities). The Foundation's trustees include Robert T. Kelly, Jr., Board Chair; Ambassador Fay Hartog–Levin (Ret.); Paula B. Pretlow; Gordon Berlin, and Nimrod Goor. Rachel Garbow Monroe serves as President and CEO. For more information, please visit www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.

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Europeans Mobilising for New IMF Head

By Adam Tooze
NEW YORK, Aug 1 2019 – In the grand European political reshuffle of 2019, it turned out that Christine Lagarde was the answer to the conundrum of who should replace Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank. But her move opens another question. Who succeeds Lagarde at the International Monetary Fund?

The question is a European question because, as part of the founding compromise of the Bretton Woods institutions in 1944, the United States nominates the head of the World Bank and the position of managing director at the IMF is taken by a European.

America’s interest at the IMF is secured by its blocking position as the largest individual shareholder and since the 1990s by the nomination of the first deputy managing director. Today that role is occupied by David Lipton, who is currently filling in for Lagarde.

So far, even in an age of growing international tension, that basic distribution of spoils has held up. When Jim Yong Kim abruptly announced his departure from the World Bank in January 2019, the Trump administration nominated David Malpass as his successor. Despite his reputation as a critic of the bank, in April, Malpass was elected unanimously and unopposed. No one wanted to add to the simmering tension with the White House.

Now, having rolled out the red carpet for Lagarde, the Europeans are mobilising to complete the reshuffle by nominating one of their own for the IMF.

Indefensible and anachronistic

Though they have tradition on their side, the fact that the Europeans feel entitled to proceed in this way is indefensible and anachronistic. It is bad for the legitimacy of the IMF and unhealthy for Europe as well.

The eurozone crisis created a toxic codependency between the eurozone and the IMF which needs to be dissolved once and for all. The fact that the Europeans are treating the leadership of a global institution as a bargaining counter in an intra-European political deal — involving the presidency of the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission — adds insult to injury.

Faced with the bullying of the likes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the European Union preens itself as an upholder of multilateral order and co-operation. And such institutions as the World Trade Organization and the IMF do embody general principles of global governance.

But the acceptance of those rules in turn depends on the acceptance by the key players of an underlying distribution of power. Given the huge shift in the balance of the global economy in recent decades, the power-sharing agreement hashed out between the Europeans and the Americans in the final stages of World War II looks increasingly threadbare.

The fact that the emerging-market economies of Asia should have more voice in the Bretton Woods institutions has been acknowledged at least since the Asian financial crises of the late 1990s. In the wake of that crisis, the manner in which the IMF had dealt with countries such as Indonesia and South Korea triggered a major legitimacy crisis. In political terms, borrowing from the IMF became toxic.

Over the protest of several non-EU members of its board, the IMF’s involvement in the eurozone forced the fund to override the basic principles of crisis-fighting it had developed since the 1990s.

By 2007, when the Spaniard Rodrigo Rato casually resigned from the managing directorship and handed the job to the ambitious French socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the fund was in freefall. Its client list had shrunk to Turkey and Afghanistan. Without the fees it earns from lending, the fund’s budget was contracting and ‘DSK’ began his term in office by downsizing its team of economists.

Some would of course wish the IMF good riddance. But the financial crisis of 2008 put paid to that idea. The fund’s client list rapidly expanded, led by desperate eastern-European economies such as Hungary, Latvia and Ukraine. The initiation of the G20 leadership meetings in November 2009 created a new global forum in which the emerging-market economies had more adequate weight.

And it was the London G20 meeting in April 2009 which agreed to adjust the balance of IMF voting rights and to raise its funding to over USD 1 trillion. This restored the IMF as a 21st-century crisis-fighting organisation.

Confidence shaken

But where and how should that firepower be directed? In 2010 global financial confidence was shaken by the outbreak of the eurozone crisis. The thought of involving the IMF in the affairs of the eurozone horrified both the Sarkozy government in France and the ECB.

But Europe’s own crisis-fighting apparatus worked painfully slowly. To stabilise the situation, a bargain was struck between the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the US president, Barack Obama, supported by the ambition of DSK.

The IMF became deeply embroiled in both the national crisis programmes for Greece, Ireland and Portugal and the overall backstop to the eurozone. In May 2010 no less than €250bn of the fund’s resource were earmarked to complement the European Financial Stability Facility, the hastily improvised predecessor of the European Stability Mechanism.

Over the protest of several non-EU members of its board, the IMF’s involvement in the eurozone forced the fund to override the basic principles of crisis-fighting it had developed since the 1990s. From 2010 to 2015 it found itself underwriting debt-restructuring programmes, which the fund’s own economists knew were inequitable and unsustainable.

When DSK’s career began to unravel in 2011, via a series of accusations of alleged sexual offences (charges were eventually dropped or he was acquitted), the Europeans even had the effrontery to argue that his successor must be European because the IMF was now existentially entangled with the eurozone.

And the Obama administration insisted the IMF had to remained involved, for fear that Europe might trigger another ‘Lehman moment’.

To be instrumentalised in this way by its two largest shareholders was bad for the legitimacy of the IMF as a global institution and it was bad for Europe. Not only did the fund, as part of the ‘troika’ with the commission and the ECB, underwrite Europe’s disastrous management of the eurozone debt crisis. The ability to call on the fund meant also that Europe could drag its feet over building its own safety net.

It is to Lagarde’s credit that she has gone a long way towards extricating the IMF from the eurozone, refusing to sign up to its third bailout for Greece in 2015. But the experience only confirms that the fund is not safe in Europe’s hands.

Matter of contention

Meanwhile, the argument for an increase in emerging-market-economy influence over the IMF is stronger than ever. Today the EU27, excluding the UK, has a voting share of 25.6 per cent, compared with 16.5 per cent for the US, China’s 6 per cent, 5.3 per cent for Germany, 4 per cent for France and India’s 2.6 per cent. How exactly quotas should be revised is a matter of contention.

Is the relevant criterion the size of foreign exchange reserves or of gross domestic product? If GDP, then is to be measured at purchasing-power parities or current exchange rates?

In PPP terms China is the largest economy in the world; at current exchange rates it still a long way behind the US. And how should the closed nature of much of the Chinese economy weigh in the balance?

Picking the formula is itself a highly political exercise. But even if one takes the formula for IMF quotas agreed by the existing dispensation, the implications are stark. China’s voting share should double to 12.9 per cent.

The voting share of the EU should fall to 23.3 per cent and that of the US should be adjusted down to 14.7 per cent. The latter change is critical because it would push the US below the 15 per cent of the vote it needs to exercise a veto over the decisions of the board, which require an 85 per cent majority.

We are in a fragile moment in global politics. America is erratic. Tensions with China are mounting. The EU has decisions to make about where it stands.

There is no chance of America accepting such a change. Indeed, there is no realistic prospect of Washington signing off on any quota adjustment. Under Obama, the Republicans in Congress took until January 2016 to approve the modest shift in the balance of voting rights accepted by the US administration in London in the spring of 2009.

For the Europeans to take advantage of this deadlock to once again appoint one of their own to the managing directorship would be a blatant demonstration of bad faith. If Europe is serious about securing the international order by means of progressive accommodation of the legitimate demands of rising powers, it could send an important signal by opening Lagarde’s replacement to well-qualified candidates from emerging markets. There are several obvious possibilities.

Front runners

The three most commonly mentioned front runners would be: Augustin Carstens, formerly of the Mexican central bank and currently running the Bank for International Settlements in Basle; Raghuram Rajan, formerly chief economist at the IMF, head of the central bank of India and now kicking his heels at the Booth School of business at the University of Chicago; and Singapore’s former finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was the first Asian to chair the IMF’s key policy steering group, the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

The fact that these men come from emerging-market economies does not make them advocates of heterodox views — all are habitués of the Davos circuit. Rajan is the highest profile in intellectual terms. But his preferences run in the redirection of ordoliberalism. Rajan was one of the fiercest critics of the unconventional monetary-policy measures pursued by Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve.

Nevertheless, for any of them to head the IMF would be an acknowledgement of the fundamental shift in the balance of the world economy. And any of them would be a stronger candidate than the short list that the Europeans have so far come up with.

Mark Carney, the (Canadian-born) head of the Bank of England, is the only ‘European’ who could match up to these three in terms of standing in the world of global finance. But, despite his Irish passport, he has been ruled out as insufficiently European. And given its need for support over Brexit, Dublin is not going to force the issue.

Regrettably, the decisive voices in Europe are determined that a representative of the eurozone should have the job. And at this point the familiar European squabbling begins. The southern Europeans have two candidates in the ring: Mário Centeno of Portugal, the current head of the Eurogroup, and Nadia Calviño, the Spanish economy minister and a former senior EU official. Both lack profile and would struggle to find the support of northern Europe.

Deeply implicated

The two candidates who would attract the support of northern Europe are deeply implicated in the disaster of the eurozone. Olli Rehn, the governor of the Finnish central bank, was widely thought of as an alternate for Jens Weidmann in the ECB stakes.

He would no doubt attract support from the new ‘Hanseatic League’, with all that implies: between 2010 and 2014, as commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and the euro in the Barroso commission, Rehn vocally advocated the austerity line.

But even worse would the man who is apparently the front runner, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the former finance minister of the Netherlands. As president of the Eurogroup from 2013 to 2018, he personified the combination of populist northern resentment and fiscal narrow-mindedness that dictated eurozone policy towards Cyprus and Greece. If he were to emerge as the IMF’s managing director, it would be a truly horrible twist in the saga of the fund’s entanglement with the eurozone.

We are in a fragile moment in global politics. America is erratic. Tensions with China are mounting. The EU has decisions to make about where it stands. In the UN and Bretton Woods institutions, created in the final stages of World War II, it has an anachronistic over-representation. There is a risk that Europe’s preoccupation with its own problems will undercut the legitimacy of those institutions.

Instead Europe should put what leverage it retains to good use. It should start by inaugurating a new era at the IMF.

This article is a joint publication by Social Europe and International Politics and Society —IPS-Journal.

Migration and Human Solidarity

Scores of migrants and refugees have been desperately trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Ilaria Vechi / IPS

By Blerim Mustafa
GENEVA, Aug 1 2019 – The migrant and refugee crisis has become a serious test for the unity of Europe as a political project. The inflow of destitute migrants and refugees has tested Europe’s political unity to an unprecedented extent. With a long-term solution to the migrant and refugee crisis nowhere in sight, the adverse impact of the current situation has the potential to unfold further and to give rise to a broader crisis with long-term implications, affecting Europe and the MENA region alike.

In his influential essay “The End of History?”, Professor Francis Fukuyama predicted that the universalization of the Western concept of liberal democracy, in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, would prevail and erase differences between peoples, societies, civilizations and world regions. Nevertheless, the manipulation of despair and the violent destruction of lives and assets in the Middle East have taken their toll in terms of the radicalization of youth. The re-emergence of populism in advanced countries continue to divide their societies. The situation is particularly striking in countries of Central and Eastern Europe that witnessed a surge in nationalist sentiments once the communist era came to an end and that did not have a colonial past. In Western Europe, the adverse impact of globalization and the financial crisis have given rise to the notion of a lost generation in which Europe’s youth experience greater degrees of impoverishment, inequality and unemployment. A political vacuum has therefore emerged, which has given rise to movements that anchor their ideologies on anti-globalization, unilateralism, protectionism and extreme forms of nationalism. Progress is being achieved to come to terms with its deadly sting, but populism in the West and extremism in the Middle East – spilling over into Europe – cannot be set against one another. The former is still – but for how long – predominantly peaceful in nature while the latter is generating political violence.

Populist parties are emerging as credible actors in light of the recent electoral successes in local and national elections. Their recipe for success: spread of fear, anger, hatred and xenophobia towards refugees and migrants in an attempt to confer legitimacy to their political ideologies. Right wing and populist parties in the West are on the offensive and are now threatening the democratic traditions of a continent referred to as the birthplace of democracy, liberalism and Enlightenment. It challenges the legitimacy of national governments and threatens to restore extreme forms of nationalistic reactions that constitute direct threats to peace, reconciliation and international cooperation. It remains a paradox that countries in Central and Eastern Europe – often the most vocal critics of the arrival of migrants and refugees – have one of the lowest percentages of people belonging to Islam. These are the countries that have benefitted most from inter-EU migration and from an open labour market. Populism, however, does not arise out of nowhere. Establishment political parties have catered to the wealthy and failed to address burning social issues, thus creating a vacuum into which political opportunists could move.

Another feature that is ubiquitous is the tendency to externalise responses to address the plight of people on the move. In this regard, fences and walls have been erected and borders sealed off in an attempt to outsource and externalise solutions to address the rise of people on the move. In addition to the notorious wall between US and Mexico, which will be made even more repellent, and to the no less notorious one cutting off the Palestinian Occupied Territories, border fences and wires have been erected between the borders of Spanish enclaves (Melilla, Ceuta)/Morocco, Slovenia/Croatia, Hungary/Croatia, Hungary/Serbia, Macedonia/Greece, Turkey/Greece and Bulgaria/Turkey. Hungary has also considered erecting a fence along the Hungarian/Romanian border in response to the influx of people on the move.

Although it is the sovereign right of every country to implement measures deemed appropriate to protect their national borders, these physical barriers can come in conflict with the right of people to seek asylum as stipulated in article 14, paragraph 1, of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (a right, however, not included in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and in the 1951 Refugees Convention, which defines a refugee as a person outside his country of nationality who has a well founded fear of persecution if returned to his country of origin. Providing assistance and protection to refugees is, therefore, in line with States’ obligations under international law and not only with their moral duties to respond to the dire situation many desperate people are facing. In this connection, it is worth referring to Pope Francis’s tweet made on 18 March 2017 where he appealed to decision-makers to not “build walls but bridges, to conquer evil with good, offence with forgiveness, to live in peace with everyone.” Pope Francis has likewise urged societies “to welcome, to protect, to promote, and to integrate migrants and refugees”.

The origin of attempts in Europe to “externalize” solutions to the refugee and migrant crisis can be traced back to the 1990 Dublin Convention. The latter stipulates the right to deport migrants and refugees to the first country of arrival, primarily to Greece, Spain and Italy, which are the first European entry points for people on the move owing to their geographical location. Countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea therefore are faced with the burden of absorbing the migrant and refugee inflows from the MENA region. This approach has contributed to an unfair distribution and relocation system of migrants and refugees where countries neighbouring bordering Syria and Iraq and then European countries situated on the Mediterranean Sea coast are the most affected. In the report of the United Nations Secretary-General addressing large movements of migrants and refugees – submitted in April 2016 to the United Nations General Assembly – he regretted that “too often, responsibility for new arrivals lies with the authorities and host communities in the first country of arrival.”

The European Union (EU) has also attempted to work with neighbouring states to defuse the crisis and to externalise solutions to control the flow of people on the move. It appears that the EU has drawn inspiration from the Australian government that have established refugee camps in neighbouring countries such as the island state of Nauru to address the inflow of refugees. In this connection, an agreement was reached between EU and Turkey, in March 2016, which stipulates, inter alia, that Ankara accepts the return of illegal migrants entering Europe. In counterpart, the EU would commit to investing EUR 3 billion to support livelihood projects for returning migrants. A similar position has also been taken vis-à-vis another migratory transit country Libya, in which the EU is committed to supporting the endeavours of the Libyan government to detain migrants and refugees in confinement camps. In response to this practice, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein referred to the detention of migrants and refugees in Libya as “an outrage to humanity”.

Despite these attempts to outsource solutions to the migrant and refugee crisis, inflows of people on the move have not ceased as the main destination regions of migrants and refugees remain the advanced and developed countries in Northern Europe. In this connection, the migrant and refugee crisis is not sustainable in the long run either for Europe or for the Arab region. The rise of populism in Europe – which so far remains political in nature – and the rise of violent extremism in the Middle East – which is an immediate threat – endanger the long-term stability of both regions and has the potential to stir an even bigger migrant and refugee crisis in the future. The root-causes of the unprecedented flow of people on the move have multiple causes, which require a multilevel response. It is imperative that decision-makers recognise the multitude of factors that contribute to the forced displacement of people. Most importantly, peace and stability and a climate conducive to the development of and the respect for human rights must be restored. It is hard to imagine why refugees and migrants would return to their home societies if sustainable and alternative livelihood options are not in place to meet the individual and collective needs of peoples and societies, and if wars and armed conflicts continue unabated.

Blerim Mustafa, Project and communications officer, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue. Postgraduate researcher (Ph.D. candidate) at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester (UK).