Doctors Without Borders Deplores UK Pressure to Push Refugees Back to Libya with Gunboats

A Doctors Without Borders (MSF), staffer supervises as construction workers complete the new MSF Ebola treatment center.
A Doctors Without Borders (MSF), staffer supervises as workers complete the new MSF Ebola treatment center.

London, 9 Jumadil Akhir 1437/19 March 2016 (MINA) – Doctors Without Borders on Friday strongly condemned the UK plan to use gunboats to force would-be refugees back to Libya, the group’s official website said.

The director of Doctors Without Borders in the UK Vickie Hawkins said “The European agreement due to be announced today to forcibly expel refugees and migrants arriving in Greece back to Turkey was concerning enough.”

But in the wake of this ugly and illegal arrangement, David Cameron yesterday pressed the EU to adopt even stronger deterrence policies, not only pushing refugees back to Turkey, but also back to Libya, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) quoted Arab Today as reporting.

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“The UK Foreign Office understands exactly how horrendous the situation is in Libya, a nation of extreme violence and instability, torn between four warring parties including an affiliate of Islamic State. Their own advice details high risks of terrorism, murder and kidnapping, describing a ‘dangerous security situation across the country’ and urges against all travel there. How is it then acceptable to push people trying to escape the country back using British gunships?

“Last year MSF operated three rescue boats in the Mediterranean. 92% of our patients fleeing Libya by boat reported having directly experienced violence in the country, while 100% witnessed extreme violence against refugees and migrants including beatings, murders and sexual violence. Despite David Cameron claiming pushing back boats targets the smuggling trade, in reality the UK would be complicit in abandoning people to this regime of abuse and violence.


“People have a legal right to flee for their lives, and will continue to do so as long as conflict, violence and destitution leaves them no alternative option. All of the deterrence methods deployed to date have proven ineffective and only exacerbate the misery and human suffering. No man, woman or child that has been subjected to the horrifying situation in Libya should then be refused the right to have their claim to safety heard and judged on its merits.

The only solution for this ‘crisis’ that would not lead to an unacceptable level of suffering is to massively and urgently increase the proper management of refugee claims across Europe, and for all governments, including the UK, to uphold their legal and moral responsibilities.

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“In the wake of the devastation of WWII, European countries came together to welcome refugees, providing them with safe havens. The UK led the way in establishing international humanitarian principles. The fact that seventy years later Britain’s leader and representative is willing to deploy warships to push desperate people back to a war-torn country shames our nation and our values.” (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)