UK must do more to stop migrants from Libya drowning due to its role in country's collapse, say MPs

Their report calls on the Foreign Office to reassess its claim that rescue operations create a 'pull factor'

Britain must play a greater role in preventing migrants drowning in the Mediterranean because of the part it played in destabilising Libya, MPs have said.

The cross-party group of politicians claimed the UK bears “particular responsibility” for the migration crisis that the Libya intervention sparked and called on ministers to reassess their claim that rescuing people from sea creates a “pull factor” for more to come.

The demands were included in a damning report on the 2011 Libya campaign, which concluded that it lacked both “accurate intelligence” and a coherent strategy for the aftermath of removing Colonel Gaddafi.

It comes as the number of migrants who have died crossing the sea to southern Europe this year has topped 3,200 and is expected to rise in coming weeks.

The report from the Foreign Affairs Committee said: “Given its role in the conflict and subsequent destabilisation in Libya, the UK has a particular responsibility in relation to migrants and refugees, an issue which has been exacerbated by the collapse of the Libyan state.”

Two years ago Foreign Office ministers announced that the government did not “support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean”.

The reason given was that they could create “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths”.

Refugee boat sinkings rise in Mediterranean Sea

The new report said that the Foreign Office should now “set out and re-examine” evidence that led it to make the claim about rescue operations being a “pull factor”.

It then called for the UK to give greater support to Italian and wider European efforts to secure agreements with migrants' countries of origin to accept the repatriation of people who have travelled over.

So far in 2016 the UN reports that 292,428 people have arrived in Europe by sea from north Africa, with 3,205 dead or missing.

More broadly, the MPs' report concluded that: “Through his decision-making in the National Security Council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy.”

The disastrous results were “political and economic collapse”, tribal warfare, the refugee crisis, widespread human rights abuses and the rise of Islamic State (IS) in North Africa, fuelled by weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We have allocated £10million this year to help the new Government to restore stability, rebuild the economy, defeat Daesh [Isis] and tackle the criminal gangs that threaten the security of Libyans and exploit illegal migrants. HMS Enterprise and HMS Diamond are both currently deployed to support the EU naval operation to tackle illegal migration, people smuggling and arms trafficking.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in