Doctors Without Borders Tells Germany to Take Thousands of Migrants from Libya

Migrants wait to reach the Italian coast on the deck of the Spanish NGO ProActiva Open Arm
Bram Janssen/AP

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has called on the German federal government to take in thousands of asylum seekers being held in Libyan facilities they say are vulnerable due to military conflict.

The NGO called on the German government to take in 3,800 migrants it described as being in “acute danger” in detention centres around the Libyan capital of Tripoli in a press release, arguing that some were in close proximity to military installations.

Florian Westphal, CEO of MSF’s German branch, said the government bears responsibility for the situation due to European Union support for the Libyan coastguard which brings migrants back to the country, saying the transfer of migrants to Germany “has to be done immediately before the next airstrike takes place”.

According to MSF, 5,695 migrants are currently detained by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya and argued that the conditions in the various detention centres “were completely unacceptable even before the fighting, and now they have continued to deteriorate”.

MSF had previously been engaged in migrant collection operations off the coast of Libya but halted their missions only months after Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini closed Italy’s ports to migrant transport vessels last year.

The NGO’s ship, the Aquarius, was estimated to have brought nearly 30,000 migrants to Italy during the course of operations that began in February 2016.

While MSF quit their mission in the area, the German-based NGO Sea-Watch did not. Two of the NGO’s captains, Pia Klemp and Carola Rackete, both face investigations in Italy for aiding illegal migration.

Ms Rackete recently called on the German government to take all of the migrants from Libya, estimated to be at least half a million people — with some estimates putting the number closer to a million.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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