Libya has historically been a migrant-receiving country, and migrants form a significant portion of the Libyan workforce. Since the fall of Qaddafi in 2011, however, the situation facing migrants in Libya has deteriorated. Powerful human-smuggling networks have emerged that have taken the exploitation of migrants to gruelling new levels. In response to pressure from the European Union and individual European states to contain migration across the Mediterranean, Libyan armed actors are increasingly turning to migrant detention as their main business model. The situation for migrants in Libya continues to deteriorate and the abuses they suffer are rampant.
This study therefore investigates what can be done at the local level to promote positive migration governance in Libya. This research question is driven by humanitarian, economic and normative concerns. From a humanitarian point of view, the scale of abuse that migrants face in Libya today requires an urgent international response. From an economic point of view, migrants have historically contributed substantially to the Libyan economy and attempts to improve their position would be likely to result in economic gains for migrant and host communities alike. And from a normative point of view, the international community has a moral obligation to address the negative human-rights consequences of its migration policies.