The Irish Times journalist, Sally Hayden, sheds light on the distressing reality of the EU’s approach to migration in Africa. Hayden, one of the few trusted by refugees locked up in Libya, shares the tragic story of Abdulaziz, a Somali refugee who took his own life after enduring months of detention in a Libyan prison funded by the EU.
Triq al-Sikka, the prison where Abdulaziz was held, is one of many across Libya receiving millions of euros from the EU to detain individuals deemed potential migrants to Europe. These prisons are plagued by hunger, disease, beatings, rape, torture, and death. Abdulaziz’s death by suicide serves as a heartbreaking reminder of the human cost of these deals.
While the UK’s immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, embarked on a recent tour to encourage political leaders to tighten measures against asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean, he seems oblivious to the tragedies occurring as a result of the EU’s policies. The EU has been striking deals with coercive forces in the region for over a decade, funneling significant funding to countries known for their human rights abuses, all in an effort to stop migration to Europe. These deals have had catastrophic consequences for asylum seekers, migrants, and the peoples of North and East Africa and the Sahel.
From agreements with Muammar Gaddafi in 2010 to subsequent deals with militias and warlords in post-intervention Libya, the EU has disbursed billions of euros to convince non-European countries to act as its immigration enforcers. This has led to the creation of a vast industry of kidnapping and detention, spanning from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, and from the Mediterranean to the Sahel. Prisons, warehouses, and even zoos have been repurposed to cage migrants, with leaked EU internal documents acknowledging that capturing migrants has become a profitable business.
The EU’s approach not only endangers migrants but also has disastrous effects on local populations. Economies have crumbled, communities have been torn apart, and human smugglers and Islamist militias have thrived. Countries like Niger, one of the poorest in the world, have become laboratories for Europe’s migration policies, distorting domestic policies and further exacerbating the suffering of its people. The EU’s demands have eroded public trust in governments, as citizens question why their elected officials prioritize the EU’s agenda over their own interests.
Ironically, politicians and policymakers who often champion the defense of sovereignty and border protection are disregarding the sovereignty of poorer nations to “stop the boats.” This hypocrisy is evident as Britain, despite leaving the EU, adopts a similar migration mentality by pushing other countries to act as immigration police.
As the EU’s controversial migrant detention deals continue to spark global debate, the human toll of these policies cannot be ignored. It is essential for governments and policymakers to reevaluate their approach to migration, prioritizing the safety and dignity of individuals seeking refuge while respecting the sovereignty and well-being of the nations involved.