Published by Consiglio Direttivo Mediterranea | 29 / Jan / 2024

The fight for freedom of movement, the right to asylum and respect for human rights starts from below

Yesterday in Rome, a summit, organised by the Italian government, between 36 representatives of African countries, the leaders of the European Union, the African Union and international economic institutions, was held to discuss the so-called Mattei Plan with the aim of structuring a broad cooperation between the European Union and African countries.

Representatives of the EU, AU, Italian and African governments. Photo: ANSA

Among the various topics discussed, migration closed the summit proceedings. Once again, they spoke about stopping 'irregular' migration (do 'irregular' human beings exist?) by externalising borders. Migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, people on the move, are only treated as a problem and migratory flows represented as a threat. Prime Minister Meloni herself states that 'what we did in Tunisia should be replicated with other nations and we are working on it'. Agreements such as the Memorandum between the European Union and Tunisia legitimise and encourage the creation of real lagers, as happens in Libya, and the implementation of deportations, as happened last July, when almost 2000 people were abandoned in the middle of the desert at the Libyan border by the Tunisian authorities.

On the other hand, given the presence of the European Union, which is increasingly locking itself up in Fortress Europe, leaving thousands of men, women and children to die every year at its gates, we are not surprised that human rights were not a topic of discussion.

For this reason, civil society in Italy, Europe and Africa is organising itself. On 26 and 27 January, the self-organised movement Refugees in Libya and the translocal network Alliance with Refugees in Libya met in Bologna to discuss human rights, freedom of movement and safe channels of entry into Europe.

The "Evacuate Human Rights defenders from Libya" campaign was launched during a press conference at Palazzo d'Accursio in the presence of the Mayor of Bologna Matteo Lepore, the director of "Me Captain" Matteo Garrone, the founders of Refugees in Libya David Yambio and Naeima Hussein, Tarik Lamloum, Libyan civil society activist and founder of the association Belaady for Human Rights, and the vice-president of Mediterranea Saving Humans Vanessa Guidi, moderated by the activist of Ya Basta! Bologna Giulia Sezzi.

The press conference at Palazzo d'Accursio

In October 2021, thousands of refugees gathered in a sit-in in front of UNHCR headquarters in Tripoli to demand evacuation to safe countries and an end to the Italy-Libya agreements. After more than 100 days, the sit-in was violently evicted by Libyan militias and more than 600 activists were imprisoned in the notorious Ain Zara lager. After 18 months of struggle in Libya and Europe, 221 human rights defenders were freed, but they are still in Libya, where they risk their lives on a daily basis. The campaign aims to secure the evacuation of all of them to Europe.

To fight against European neo-colonialism in Africa, perfectly exemplified by the Mattei Plan, the only possible response is organisation from below and support for those defending the human rights of people on the move in Libya and in the rest of North Africa.

Video by Refugees in Libya

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