Now, the European institutions promise to work to change the situation. Don’t you find it hypocritical?
In fact, I believe there has always been an intention to work to change it, but there have been tremendous challenges to manage it politically. For the first time, in the last Paris Summit, a clear reference was made to the deteriorating human rights situation and the need to restore respect for human rights in Libya. From our point of view, as UNHCR, both in Libya and outside, we have continued — and since April, we have increased — our pressure to have alternatives to detention, especially because we know there are families, children, vulnerable people in the centers. But we also know that there may be other solutions. Over the last 18 months, we have managed to release about 1,000 people from these centers, the most vulnerable ones. We want to continue on this road, in order to open the centers as soon as possible.
Minister Minniti also promised to commit to enforcing human rights in Libya. But since June, the Libyan Coast Guard has been bringing the migrants back.
As UNHCR, we have explicitly stated that Libya cannot be considered a safe harbor. Our priority is to save lives, and we find that the Libyan Coast Guard intercepts more people at sea. We have expanded our presence at the migrant landing points, but the problem is that the people we succor are then taken to detention centers. We have also repeatedly stressed how important the presence of the NGOs in the Mediterranean was, and we have made it even clearer that the fact that landings have decreased does not suggest that the problem is solved. Stopping landings is actually only part of the problem, but there are actually hundreds of thousands of people who continue to languish and suffer further.
UNHCR has not spared criticism about what is happening in Libya. Now both Italy and the E.U. state you are the guarantors for the respect of the human rights of migrants. Aren’t you afraid you’re being used?