The Libyan Migration Corridor
Title: The Libyan Migration Corridor
Series/Number: EU-US Immigration Systems; 2011/03
Since the mid 1990s, the media have directed our attention to the thousands of Southern Sahara Africans who take life threatening risks crossing the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic ocean. Their numbers on migratory routes leading to Europe are increasing, joining up, especially in the “Libyan crossroad” with North Africans, Egyptians and even Asian migrants on the same quest. This image reflects reality, but only partially so, for it leads one to believe that these migrants cross the Sahara in the hope of reaching Europe. It should be pointed out that one of the main misunderstandings when evoking these migrations flows is to reduce them to the act of crossing the straits of the Mediterranean Sea. Since the 1990s, the Libyan case exemplifies the way the multilateral (EU-Maghreb) or bilateral (Libya-Italy) political negotiations between the two shores of the Mediterranean sea rapidly focus on the figure of the “illegal sub-Saharan migrant in transit”. This simplistic view is dangerous because it erases the historical dimension of the movement of people and its consequences. The Sahara is not merely a desert to be crossed; it is an area that has been shaped for more than half a century by the various migrant, trader or pastoral communities who have contributed to its massive urbanisation and economic development. At the same time, the reorganization of African migration is affected by the inflation of tensions, border and police controls, the diversification of routes between Niger, Chad Sudan and Libya consequently contributes to the perpetuation of transit spaces. There are tens of thousands of these migrants who settle down more or less durably in these new transit areas dependants on opportunity, status controls, and expulsions. But these transit areas have also become places where migrants seek employment, create new economic activities, or develop new skills while working, studying or practicing other tongues. As migration patterns across the Sahara are reconfigured, the impact is more visible in some places. But their durability should not be taken for granted. Villages specialised in the transit economy may easily decline as new diplomatic relations are formed between countries of immigration and third countries.
Improving EU and US Immigration Systems' Capacity for Responding to Global Challenges: Learning from experiences
Type of Access: openAccess