Libya's borders are more porous than ever, leaving the country unable to cope with illegal immigrants.
The Libyan Agency for Emergency and Human Aid announced in early June that it undertakes the living costs of 1217 illegal immigrants arrested in Benghazi alone, in addition to 300 others in Tobruk, as well as hundreds in other areas.
Maso'd Al-Rakobi, head of the Illegal Immigration Management Directorate (IIMD) affiliated with the Ministry of Interior, which merged with the Patrol Public Administration in April, 2012 details the complexities of hosting and repatriating so many illegal immigrants.
What is the cause of increasing illegal immigration to Libya?
The key reason is that security forces are unable to control marine and land borders, many thousand kilometers long. Additionally, the situation became worse with the uncontrolled spread of weapons among people.
How many housing centers are affiliated with the IIMD?
There are 18 centers distributed throughout Libya and directly supervised by the IIMD.
The IIMD 's capabilities are still too modest, and in comparison with the tasks assigned to it, incapable of effective management. Additionally, the number available is insufficient, especially in the department’s southern areas: Sabha, Ghat, Al-Qatrun, Kufra, Awbari, Gadamis.
Our tasks include securing and protecting the Second Boundary Collar (city boundaries), fighting all forms of smuggling across the Libyan land boundaries, and implementing the national central security plan at state.
Many local and international human rights organizations are talking about the mistreatment of illegal immigrants arrested in Libya. What is your response?
I deny such accusations, especially since many international organizations paid visits to the centers and praised the efforts excelled and the good treatment immigrants receive. They receive Islam-based treatment. Our religion obliges us to properly treat immigrants in housing centers, right from the moment they are arrested, and when they are handed over to the military or security authorities. Immigrants' personal things and money are documented in their presence and handed over to them when they are repatriated, according to legal procedures.
We do our best to provide the housing centers with all the requirements, including clothes, covers, pillows, and healthy daily meals prepared by competent companies, and which police in the centers eat.
We also provide healthcare for patients, especially pregnant women and children, in coordination with hospitals and healthcare centers.
What procedures are adopted for the repatriation of illegal immigrants?
I can assure you that the treatment illegal immigrants receive respects law, humanity and dignity of the human being. As for the repatriation mechanism, it starts after the immigrant is arrested or handed over, moving them to the housing centers by buses allocated for this purpose, and then the procedures of repatriation- whether by land or by air -are completed in coordination with the related embassy and passports investigation. Additionally, we coordinate with the International Organization of Illegal Migration with regard to voluntary repatriation procedures for illegal immigrants.
What volume of support have you received from the Ministry of Interior?
Last year, many cars were allocated for the IIMD and the repatriation expenditures were covered and capabilities were provided for the IIMD departments and housing centers; however, there is still a capacity deficit, as we need qualitative support.
Additionally, departments and security point headquarters should be maintained and equipped with the requirement of proper performance including furniture, sufficient allocations should be dispersed regularly to cover daily costs, urgent solutions for maintaining the existing housing centers and building others should be developed, and repatriation of illegal immigrants of all nationalities should be hastened.
What specific equipment do you need?
Boundary controlling matrixes must be installed. Additionally, we need desert vehicles, vans, buses, service cars and emergency cars, in addition to the developed weapons and the different security equipment the IIMD lacks, including both night and day glasses, and GPS apparatuses and electricity generators.
What we require most is the training and qualification of IIMD members by providing them with training courses in and outside the country in the fields of boundary security, smuggling and illegal immigration, fighting and running housing centers.
Do the workers in the IIMD receive and special healthcare considering that they deal direclty with migrants who may infect them?
Immunizing workers is a critical issue; however, the procedure for this purpose has not yet been carried out. No medical insurance is provided for the workers, though we have addressed the competent authorities many times, but are still waiting for the reply and for taking implementation procedures.