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Deeply Talks: Fallout From E.U. Migration Obsession Rocks Libya

After a dramatic drop in migrants crossing the central Mediterranean, some E.U. leaders are declaring victory. Migration expert Giulia Lagana urges caution in a conversation with Daniel Howden on his recent Refugees Deeply investigation.

Written by Daniel Howden Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes
The bodies of migrants lie on a boat after being recovered by Santa Lucia merchant ship in the Mediterranean Sea, 20 nautical miles from the Libyan coast, on August 1, 2017. Some 500 survivors in total were being pulled to safety, the coastguard told AFP.AFP PHOTO / Angelos Tzortzinis

The central Mediterranean has become both a political stage, where E.U. migration policy is tested, and a graveyard where its victims are drowned. The arrival of large numbers of refugees and migrants on European shores has brought rare clarity to E.U. foreign policy, increasingly geared to the single purpose of reducing inward migration.

Libya, the departure point for 95 percent of refugees and migrants reaching Italy, is at the nexus of all these efforts. It is also a country in turmoil, without any legitimate national institutions and one in which international stabilization efforts are floundering.

As part of our Deeply Talks series we hosted Giulia Lagana, a migration expert from the Open Society Foundations, to discuss our recent investigation into E.U. actions in Libya, which has been hailed as the definitive account of the central Mediterranean situation.

The discussion tackled murky deals made by Italy and Libyan militias that dramatically reduced sea crossings in July and August this year. Lagana said the deals amounted to little more than “making migrant smugglers into migrant interceptors.”

In a frank conversation, we look at E.U. complicity in Italy’s deals, the consequences on shore in Libya and the broader European picture. Listen to the entire Deeply Talks discussion on the central Mediterranean here:

Read the full investigation: Central Mediterranean: European Priorities, Libyan Realities

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