Libya says 'no exceptions' in migrant expulsions

Libya will make no exceptions in its drive to expel illegal immigrants and any recruitment of foreign labour in future must be done through legal channels, an official said on Sunday.

The oil-rich North African country said on Wednesday it had started deporting illegal immigrants, a community of up to two million, mostly men from poor African states who are trying to reach Europe.

Tripoli is under pressure at home to tackle the problem of illegal immigrants whom officials and locals blame for spreading crime and taking jobs from unemployed young Libyans.

Mohamed El-Lamoushi, head of the Information Department at the prime minister’s office, told Reuters the move was an internal Libyan matter, adding that future recruitment of foreign workers would be carried out under accords Libya had recently signed with labour-exporting countries.

“All the procedures [of expulsion] must be finished in one month and there will be no exceptions. Foreigners who want to enter Libya must have legal papers and documents,” he said.

Lamoushi said the Ministry of Manpower was ready to supply different economic sectors in Libya with needed labour. “The ministry has signed agreements with African, Arab and Asian countries to make the labour available on demand,” he said.

Homes to be destroyed

Libya welcomed people from across Africa in the 1990s as it sought cheap labour to help repair an economy hit by sanctions.

Some have menial jobs such as washing cars while many work in construction, a sector booming because of a big programme of public works fuelled by high oil revenues.

Libya has instructed housing authorities to destroy migrants’ makeshift homes on the outskirts of Tripoli and other coastal cities.

Human rights group Amnesty International said Libya’s plan was forbidden under international law and some of those expelled risked torture and abuse back home.

But Lamoushi said expulsions were being carried out “in a civilised way”.
He added: “Only 60 000 of them are here with legal papers and work permission.”

“The decision to deport the illegal immigrants is an internal issue and is in line with Libya’s intention to organise its internal affairs.

“Libya faces problems of health, crimes related to drugs and alcohol and economic problems. Therefore the decision is not against any country or people. It is intended only to organise the entry and exit of the foreigners.” - Reuters

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