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EU Externalization of Migration and Border Management to Libya: the Role of Non-Governmental Organizations and Human Rights Implications

Project description

Border management and the role of NGOs in Libya

Libya has always been a final destination and a stepping stone to Europe for migrants. This situation became more complicated after the overthrow of Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The country hosted more than two million migrants, mostly coming from Africa. The EU-funded LIBORG project will investigate the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the reconfiguration of Libya’s border regime. It will evaluate the EU’s externalisation process, which supports countries of origin and transit in their efforts to stem migration. The project will map the different NGOs active in this field and analyse their mandates and activities. Ultimately, it will assess the associations between the EU’s externalisation process, NGOs and human rights issues.


LIBORG aims at exploring, from the perspective of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in migration-related activities, the reconfiguration of the Libyan migration and border regime since Gadhafi’s fall in 2011. Libya is a point of departure of migrants heading for Europe on makeshift boats. Italy (as the landing country) and the EU have long been trying to include Libya in the process of externalization, which aims to support countries of origin and transit in their efforts to stem unwanted migration. A crucial role in this process is played by international organizations (IOs) and other non-state actors, which: a) directly carry out activities in countries of origin and transit (e.g. refugee protection, repatriations, assistance to detained people, livelihood projects and information campaigns aimed at reducing migration); b) provide local state authorities with know-how and technical support. While a growing body of research has started analyzing this process, scant attention has been paid to Libya (as opposed to other countries) and to the role played by NGOs (as opposed to that played by IOs). Gadhafi’s fall allowed for many international NGOs to start activities in Libya, and for many Libyan NGOs to be established. Despite Libya’s political instability, their activities have increased sharply, along with the increase in funding from EU and Italy, since 2017. In 2017 and 2018, extraordinary funding was made available by EU and Italy to IOs, which typically subcontract part of their activities to NGOs. In 2018, six Italian NGOs started working in Libyan detention centres under a scheme funded by the Italian government. LIBORG will, first, map the different NGOs operating in this field. Then, it will analyze their mandates and activities, as well as the relevant funding sources, and the relations they have to one another as well as to state authorities and IOs. Finally, it will assess the relationship between externalization, NGOs and human rights.


Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
93430 Villetaneuse

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Seine-Saint-Denis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 184 707,84